In the early days of the town Colwyn Bay was part of the Roman Catholic Llandudno Mission District, which also included Conwy, Llanrwst and Penmaenmawr.
In 1895 there were about one hundred Catholics in the Colwyn Bay area and Mass was celebrated in a house on Rhiw Road. However on Sunday, Mass was celebrated in a large room in the Imperial Hotel.
1898 was a milestone year for the Colwyn Bay Mission. In January of that year, at the invitation of the Bishop, the Oblates of Mary Immaculate, a priestly order, took charge of the mission. The Order is still serving the parish today.
The town was growing and developing as a seaside resort so the building of a church was felt necessary. A benefactor, Monsignor James Lennon from Lancashire, donated the money to build a church in memory of his brother, Dean John Lennon. The new church was to be dedicated to St. Joseph. It was to be light, spacious and of sufficient size to accommodate the large number of Catholic visitors as well as the local residents.
Land was purchased from the Colwyn Bay and Pwllychrochan Estate Company. The foundation stone was laid by the Bishop, Dr. Francis Mostyn on August 10th 1898 and the church was blessed and opened by him on Whit Sunday June 3rd 1900.
Other associated developments have been the opening of a convent nearby in 1905, and a primary school on adjacent land was opened in 1933.
St Joseph’s Roman Catholic Church occupies a prominent location on the approach to the town centre from the west.
The architect for the church, built between 1898 and 1900, was R Curran. The original plans show a steeple, not a tower as there is now.
The nave has a clerestory consisting of a series of windows above the lean to roofs of the aisles. A low tower stands at the north-western end, possibly not completed. St Joseph’s is built of sandstone – yellow sandstone for the walls with red sandstone for the details, such as the door and window openings, the tops of the buttresses and string course. Except for the boundary walls to Conway Road and Brackley Avenue, no use has been made of the local limestone.
Both the north and south aisles are supported by buttresses between which are plain arched windows with leaded lights.
The main entrance is in the north-western tower – moulded masonry in red sandstone, the doors having decorative strap hinges. Another entrance may be found at the western end below the large window, where four marble columns have been incorporated into the doorway.
Worthy of noting is the apse at the eastern end with the stained glass panels and the statue above the main entrance in the tower.
Some features of interest in the church include the Sanctuary and High Altar, the Stations of the Cross and the Baptismal Font and Window. Both traditional and modern stained glass windows merit viewing. Also worth noting is the Memorial to Dean John Lennon and Rev. Monsignor James Lennon.
As with a number of Colwyn Bay’s churches and chapels, the carefully tended grounds enhance the setting of this place of worship.