March 17 2014 Latest news:
Alex Hurrell, Reporter
Monday, January 21, 2013
A chilly, damp Victorian chapel in north Norfolk has been transformed into a warm and welcoming place to worship after a major makeover.
And on Saturday Stalham Baptist Church minister Rev Ron Skivington and his congregation are hoping to thank those involved and show off their new building at an open afternoon and re-dedication service.
Local workmen have spent 10 months transforming the High Street chapel, taking plaster off to leave bare bricks and ripping up the floor.
Mr Skivington said it had been the building’s first major revamp since it was built, without a damp-proof course, in 1884.
Builders found that rising damp had caused even more damage than anticipated and had to strip all the plaster off the walls.
The project, which began last February, also involved filling the walls and under-floor area with insulation, updating all the electrical systems and the heating, removing pews and replacing them with chairs, and completely re-decorating the building.
Mr Skivington said the congregation usually numbered 70-80 at Sunday services, swelling on special occasions and when holidaymakers were in the area.
While the work was being done, they worshipped in the adjoining hall and have been back in the finished church since mid December.
The large chapel windows still need to be replaced, which is set to happen in the spring, and the estimated total cost of the project is £160,000.
Mr Skivington said they had begun with £40,000 in the project kitty but this had swelled to £106,000 by the end of last year, largely through fund-raising, the generosity of churchgoers and members of the community, and a loan from the Baptist Union.
He added that the new building only needed about half its heating system switched on to be cosy and was now a “bright and positive” place to worship.
He hopes the community will drop in and see for themselves this Saturday, January 26, from 1-3pm when light refreshments, photos and a video of the work in progress will all be available.
A ribbon will be cut by former chapel secretary David Meale to open the “new” building, and at 3pm Mr Skivington will lead a re-dedication service. Stalham vicar Rev Simon Lawrence has also been invited.