MAINTAINING & IMPROVING ST PATRICK’S CHURCH Our church was built as a Victorian charity school in 1848, is grade 2 listed and has been a church for approximately 75 years. The original building was modified for industrial use (first as a glove factory and then, during the war, producing gas masks) in the 1940s and then into a church between 1950 and 1965. The church originally consisted of the current main part of the church in front of the altar with 2 additional rooms on the carpark side. It was extended in the 1960s by partial opening up of the internal walls and building the extension that is now the flower sacristy beside the car park door. While the church space was increased the internal layout was not changed as the altar has remained directly under the aesthetically attractive gothic style main window. As a result, many parts of the church have poor sight lines to the altar. These various modifications have, unfortunately, compromised the structural integrity of the original Victorian building. The roof drainage has been disrupted and leaks into the building, the fire escape and associated door are aesthetically disappointing and have caused structural damage to that part of the church, the upper floor is poorly attached to the walls and has been ordered out of use because of structural and fire safety concerns, and the flower sacristy is falling away from the main building and has severe rainwater leaks. There is also a need to increase Mass capacity due to the reduction in weekend masses that will be caused fewer priests in the diocese. The Parish Finance Committee is working with the Diocese to appoint an architect to establish the current state of the building and to identify how it can be improved to increase capacity, improve the liturgical layout, and to prepare it for another 75 years of church use. Tender responses from architects invited to carry out a design study are between £10,000 to £15,000. These early discussions with architects have led to the realisation that the total bill for refurbishment of the church could be in the order of £500,000.
We have been advised that the Diocesan Finance Committee and the trustees would be unlikely to support a request to spend tens of thousands of pounds on a design study without addressing how the full building cost can be met. We would potentially be wasting a large sum of charitable money if the full project could not proceed. We have therefore asked our potential architects to amend their proposals to reduce the level of detail in their plans and to include an investment appraisal looking at the whole of the current church site. In the meantime, we have a legal obligation to preserve this listed building but are struggling to achieve that due to a reduction in our income resulting from the pandemic. There is a backlog of urgent weatherproofing repairs to the roof and the window which need to be funded from our weekly offertory giving which still falls far below pre pandemic levels, partly due to a move away from cash and our inability to hold a cash collection each week. We will therefore be making appeals to you all in forthcoming weeks to recover our level of income using standing orders, card payments in the church, gift aid, and to ask for an increase in the level of giving. (Vic Steadman – Parish Treasurer)