Denaby Main was originally a company village built by the Denaby Main Colliery Company Ltd. Denaby Main Colliery began production in 1868 mining coal from the Barnsley Main seam. Cadeby Main Colliery began production in 1893. By 1903 both collieries were employing over 4,500 men and boys.
In 1894 Fr Thomas Kavanagh arrived in the village with the task of establishing a Catholic Church to meet the spiritual, religious and pastoral needs of miners and their families drawn mainly from the growing Irish community, attracted by employment opportunities and housing.
Andrew Montague, whose family owned much of the land in Denaby Main, offered Fr Kavanagh an acre of land to build a church. The foundation stone was laid in 1897 and work began immediately on building the church. The new church cost £4,000.
On the feast of St Alban in June, 1898, St Alban’s Catholic Church was officially opened by Rt Rev William Gordon, Bishop of Leeds. The service was attended by many local dignitaries. After Mass lunch was provided at Rossington Street Infants School where Bishop Gordon congratulated Fr Kavanagh on achieving his goal.
The bell tower, bell, north aisle and Sacred Heart Chapel were added in 1910/11.
On Wednesday, 20 June, 2018, Bishop Ralph visited St Alban’s Parish to lead the commemoration of the 120th anniversary of the official opening of the Church.
Before Mass Bishop Ralph, accompanied by Fr Desmond Edozie, Parish Priest, visited Denaby Cemetery where he blessed the graves of priests who had served the parish of St Alban.
The chief celebrant at the Mass was Bishop Ralph. Fr Desmond Edozie, Fr Darren Reid, Fr John Cooke and Fr Pat O’Connor concelebrated the Mass with him.
Bishop Ralph in his homily outlined the life of St Alban and highlighted his faith and witness to the risen Lord before he was martyred. At the end of Mass Bishop Ralph unveiled and blessed a plaque to mark the occasion.
After Mass entertainment and refreshments were provided in St Alban’s Catholic Club. A special anniversary cake was cut as part of the celebrations.
Fr Desmond Edozie, Parish Priest, stated, “We give thanks to God for the dedication and generosity of generations of priests and people who have made their contribution to the life and development of our parish and community. The vision and legacy of Fr Thomas Kavanagh and those early parishioners have sustained us as a Christian community over the past 120 years.
“Our faith, prayers and living the gospel message of hope in an ever-changing world will give us the confidence, the ambition and skills to meet the challenges of the next 120 years.”
The Celebration Mass was attended by parishioners, the community, Rev Reg Davies, Vicar of All Saints Parish Church, Cllr Linda Curran, Deputy Civic Mayor, her Consort, Duncan Anderson, Cllr Nigel Ball, Cabinet Member for Public Health, Leisure and Culture, Cllr Ian Pearson, Cllr Lani Ball, representatives from St Alban’s Catholic Primary School and from St Alban’s Catholic Club and Clive Kirk from Turners Funeral Service.
There are few buildings left in Denaby Main from the Victorian period. St Alban’s Church is unique in that it has survived and still retains its original use as a place of worship and community. Parishioners are extremely proud of its heritage and history.