The present church was opened on 16th April 1950, the feast of St. Bernadette. It was blessed by the Bishop of Lancaster, Dr. Thomas Flynn.
The History of St Bernadette's
Mass had been celebrated in the area earlier than 1950. In 1939 F. Mc Narney, parish priest of St. Teresa’s had been given permission to say the Sunday Mass in the reading room of the old library (now the site of the Bispham Fire Station) This mass was said by a priest from St. Teresa’s. Then the brewery of the Red Lion Hotel, Messrs Dutton’s of Blackburn Brewery Ltd. gave permission for a mass to be said upstairs in the cocktail Bar. About the same time another brewery, Messr’s Magee Marshall allowed the Diocese to buy some land for a future church.
Towards the end of the war a Catholic lady who lived at 744 Devonshire Road bequeathed her house to the diocese for the priest who would one day come to Bispham to start a new parish. Subsequently, Fr. T.H. Marsden, at the time a curate at Holy Family, was appointed by the Bishop. Fr Marsden established himself at 744 Devonshire Road and from there continued to say mass at the Red Lion Hotel. Daily Mass was said at 744 Devonshire Road and Fr. Marsden used his army altar for the purpose. The social side of the new parish progressed with many fund raising events held at various venues in the town (St. Kentigern’s and the Catholic Club).
Fr Marsden was also busy negotiating with the architect about plans for a church, but there was one big obstacle to be overcome. A building licence was needed to build anything after the end of the war. Priority for building licences at the end of the war was usually given to housing projects.
At last, on July 16th 1948, Fr. Marsden received a letter saying a licence had been granted. This day is the feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmel. The first sod was cut on the 8th December, the Feast of the Immaculate Conception. According to the Gazette & Herald the first turf was cut by Canon M McNarney During the first months of 1949 work on the church progressed
Sometime in the middle of 1949 Fr Marsden applied for permission to put up a hall and so a large Nissen hut with 4 foot brick wall foundation was erected. This was used as a school and social events could now be held more frequently and without relying on the goodwill of others. Mass was now said in the Nissen hut.
The building work on the church so progressed that on July 3rd 1949 the foundation stone was laid by the Bishop of Lancaster Dr. T.E. Flynn After the laying of the foundation stone, Fr. Marsden, by late October, was hopeful that services would be held in the new Church forChristmas. This was reported to the Gazette &Herald dated October 20th 1949. It is unknown if services were held in the Church at Christmas!
The church was officially opened and blessed by the Bishop of Lancaster Dr. T.E.Flynn on the feast of St. Bernadette 16th April 1950.
Fr. T.H. Marsden was inducted as the first Parish Priest on Sunday 30th April 1950 by the Very Rev William Raftery of St. Wulstan’s Church , Fleetwood (Dean of the district) Also taking part in the service were Father E. McManus (Holy Family, North Shore), Father J Armour (Ribbleton), Fr. J. Rawlinson (Freckleton), Father W. Hannigan (Ashton-on-Ribble), and Father Guerin(Thornton).
The church remained much as built until the late 1970’s and 1980’s. At this time Fr. (now Canon) Carey began to make some alterations. First the altar was reordered and enlarged. Later the sacristy was enlarged, a new porch and a choir loft were built. A lot of the money for these projects was raised by the parishioners donating pennies and loose change encouraged by Fr. Carey.