Inside the Church

Yesterday I was really excited to get the chance to see the inside of St Marie’s Church. I’ve stood outside it rather a lot, but this was my first chance to stand below that huge roof and breathe it all in.

I was blown away by the size of the building. Like any good TARDIS, it really is a lot bigger than you imagine and I am genuinely thrilled at the prospect of our organisation working out of the venue on a daily basis.

Apologies for the shaky camera work, but here’s a brief glimpse inside St Marie’s Church in Widnes.

Hopefully you’ll get a feel for the size of the space inside the building.

It’s worth pointing out that many of the windows are currently boarded up. As such, there will be a great deal more natural light inside the church following it’s redevelopment.

For the most part of this video, some of the staff and Trustees of Halton & St Helens VCA gather around the alter to listen to Keith Williams (Morbaine Ltd) explain the plans.

If you’re interested in getting involved with the proposed redevelopment of St Marie’s Church, please leave a comment below or e-mail mroberts@haltonsthelensvca.org.uk

Tomorrow I’ll be posting some interviews I filmed with our staff team, our Trustees and Keith Williams from Morbaine Ltd.

Matthew Roberts

Through to Stage 2…

Our bid to the Heritage Lottery Fund is through to the next stage!

Here’s how our Chief Exec, Sally Yoeman reported it to the local press:

A precious Pugin-designed church saved from demolition at the 11th hour, is to be preserved and turned into a vibrant community resource, after lying empty for five years.

Halton and St Helens Voluntary Action has won a Heritage Lottery Grant to transform St Marie’s Catholic Church in Lugsdale Road, Widnes, into their new Halton home.

Sally Yeoman, chief executive said: “It is hugely exciting.

“This church was designed by the same architect as the iconic Houses of Parliament.

“The altar, statues and organ are listed and will be kept intact.

“A lot of glass will be used to complement the hugely ornate statues.

“It is not going to be a church but we want to make it a peaceful haven people can use for contemplation and prayer.”

The first phase of an £800,000 grant has been released to enable the charity to develop the conservation plans.

Ms Yeoman said: “We want to hear from people who previously used the church, families who married there or had their babies baptised.

“We want them to help us shape the way we take this development forward.

“We are including a whole range of heritage activities to bring the church back into use.

We hope this will become a community hub used by local groups as well as ourselves.”
John Parle, managing director of Widnes developer Morbaine, who are offering architectural advice, said: “Inside it is absolutely fabulous.

“Heritage Lottery Funding of £800,000 has been approved which, along with other funding, could reach £1.3 million.”

On Monday morning I’ll be visiting the site and going inside the church for the first time! I’m extremely excited.

We’re going to be stepping up our consultation efforts over the next few weeks so if you’d like to get involved, please e-mail mroberts@haltonva.org.uk or call (01928) 593 118.

Matthew Roberts