MORE than £100,000 is being pumped into transforming a Pontefract church into a community hub.
The Coalfields Regeneration Trust (CRT) has awarded a grant of £100,200 towards renovation work at St Giles’ Church on Market Place to enable the building to be used for a wide range of community activities.
Improvements include a new reception area, community café, shop, toilets, exhibition area, information point and meeting rooms.
Rev Bob Cooper, vicar of Pontefract, said: “We are extremely grateful for the support we have received from the CRT and look forward to welcoming additional user groups within the building.
“Considerable interest is being shown by the general public in the progress of the building works and a viewing window has been provided so people can see what is happening behind the screen which separates the building works from the church area.”
Work started on the project last October with the relocation of the north door and one of the 19th century stained glass windows.
The new door provides an alternative entrance to the church while the main entrance is closed to allow the alteration works to the west end of the building.
The CRT grant will also be used to provide a lift and stairway, plus construction and fitting out of the new first floor which will include four meeting rooms, toilets and a seating gallery for concerts, performances and large church services.
Peter McNestry, chairman of the CRT, said: “We are delighted to make this investment to improve the facilities at St Giles’ and make it a much more sustainable resource at the heart of the community.”
Earlier this month archaeologists unearthed the remains of a medieval burial ground as well as the foundations of what is believed to have been the earliest church to occupy the site.
Bill Bradley, chairman of the church building group, said: “The grant has come at the right time for us and we hope to be able to bring the new facilities into use during the summer.”
MP Yvette Cooper, who visited the site, said the renovation work was important in “preserving Pontefract’s past.”