The first church of St Catherine of Siena in the old Horse Friar was opened in 1875 to accommodate catholic residents of a working class district with many immigrant families of Irish origin. This was following the establishment of a school and church in Windmill Street within the parish of St Peter's in 1869.

This was demolished and replaced in 1964 with the present buildings in order to make room for the Inner Ring road. This was also when the old terraced houses were replaced by new council flats and maisonettes. The area however went into a decline with a rapidly changing demography. Over the past few years, the surrounding area has witnessed a boom in housing and commerce. This has brought in new tenants and a sense of vibrancy to the area.

St Catherine's church is one of the first catholic churches in England to have a 'circular' design which enables the congregation to be close to the celebrant.