Refurbishment for St. Saviour's Church in Bamber Bridge

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St. Saviour's Church in Bamber Bridge
Image caption,
The church now has its first toilet in its 175 year history

Members of a church in Bamber Bridge are urging the town to make good use of the building after a £160,000 community-based upgrade.

Work has been completed to make St. Saviour's more community-orientated.

Amongst the new facilities are a refurbished parish room and a brand new heating system.

The Reverend Graham Halsall, minister at St. Saviour's, said the project was "to encourage greater flexibility about how we use the church building".

He said: "We have already been in contact with voluntary groups and third sector providers of services, who are keen use the premises of faith groups and whose sympathies and values overlap greatly.

"Our location near the motorway junctions of the M6, M65 and M61 is a great advantage to those who travel to meet on the outskirts of local towns.

"It will give us in-roads into untapped community groups and contacts."

Funding for the project included grants and help from the Blackburn Diocese.

First toilet

There were contributions from the church community and a historical fund developed for the church building.

The Bishop of Blackburn, the Right Reverend Nicholas Reade, who led the celebrations at the opening of the new facilities said: "In my years in the diocese I have been encouraging churches to adapt their buildings for mission, for fellowship and above all for outreach.

"I think this is what this scheme really has achieved."

Architect and church warden, Peter Boyd, said the plan was always to augment the old with the new.

He aid: "We have a church which was originally built in 1837 and extended in 1887. It hadn't really changed much since then. We are now bringing it into the 21st Century.

"As an architect, I was torn between preserving what you can see is good from the past but knowing that it has to move on."

Moving on has also meant the church now has its first toilet in its 175 year history.

But, as the congregation gathered in St. Saviour's for a celebration of church life, with music provided by the Cuerden Church School choir and Blackburn Cathedral Boys' Choir, they were also facing up to the reality that their fund-raising work was far from over.

Mr Halsall said: "This is the beginning of our challenge. We have a roof to replace now. Three days before this project began we lost all our lead to theft.

"It caused £25,000 worth of damage, but such is the damage that we have to replace the whole of the roof. That's another £200,000."

When asked where that money would come from, he said: "It will happen, I don't know where it will come from but it will happen."

Joe Wilson presents the faith programme on BBC Radio Lancashire from 06:00 each Sunday.

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