Fr. Joe Eldridge, 1965-77

c.1967: Fr. Joseph Eldridge.
c.1967: Fr. Joseph Eldridge.

After Fr. Bryant’s retirement, Fr. Eldridge found himself with an urgent school problem. The Linacre Road school was chronically so overcrowded that numerous Catholic children could not get in, despite having classes of well over 40. It had been hoped that the situation would have improved after 1967, when the Diocese had persuaded the Sisters of Jesus and Mary to close their own private, fee-paying school at Park Avenue and to take instead the infants, who were seriously disadvantaged at Linacre Road. But problems at Linacre Road continued and there was no solution without building. After much heart- searching, Fr. Eldridge agreed to find space for expanding the school and its play area by entirely demolishing the old church, ie, the parish hall and social centre, together with the old presbytery at 36 Linacre Road. All that remains today of the “Hall” is the far wall, which bounds the playground: the shape of the old windows can be seen from the other side. Once again we were without a parish centre and to some extent still are.

The rebuilding, completed summer 1972, left the Junior School — to give it its present title — much as it is today. But even before building was completed, Fr. Eldridge was trying to find a new Centre: he bought one house, No. 107 Harlesden Road, adjacent to the church, and had negotiated the purchase of No. 109; but as the Local Authority refused to sanction their conversion to a Parish Centre, he sold 107 again and applied instead to purchase part of the now redundant St. Andrew’s School, which is close to the church.

1939: view from Peter Avenue.
1939: view from Peter Avenue.

This project too was disallowed, nor was Fr. Eldridge’s third scheme

1974: Architect's drawing for projected extension.
1974: Architect’s drawing for projected extension.

proceeded with, which was to extend the frontage of the church (compare architect’s drawing) to provide rooms for parish activities.

However, regular albeit occasional use of some of the rooms from St. Andrew’s school has since ‘been obtained and helps to alleviate the problem.

1939: The Sanctuary
1939: The Sanctuary
1974: Architect's Drawing
1974: Architect’s Drawing

Fr. Eldridge also did several things to improve the interior comfort and appearance of the church, which had till then been very spartan: a lining of insulating material was added to the concrete ceiling, to cut down heat loss; the coloured glass windows were installed (the most effective is behind the organ loft) in 1971; and the marble surround was fitted to the sanctuary.


In 1977 Fr. Eldridge was transferred to Harrow-on-the-Hill.

Move to next section – Fr Charles Mercer 1977-1980
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