An almost derelict church has been saved from closure thanks to a £283,000 transformation.
The Diocese of Lichfield was faced with the prospect of closing All Saints in Leek Road, Hanley indefinitely because the listed building was in a bad state of disrepair and congregation numbers were falling. Now thanks to the tireless work and enthusiasm of Reverend Geoff Eze and a small team of supporters – the church in Joiners Square has just been taken off Historic England’s at-risk register and plans are in place to make it a community hub as well as a place of worship.
Various funds, including private donations, the Heritage Lottery Fund, the Edward Cadbury Trust and Red Industries, has seen the church, which dates back to the 1850’s, completely transformed.
Work has included a £250,000 building refit, a new heating system, roof, floor and organ restoration and a fourton glass archway. A stray cat named London has even moved into the church, which he now calls home. During the restoration, a bible more than 100-years-old was found, as well as the original church keys and choir sheets.
Rev Geoff Eze said:
“It’s taken four years to get here and a tremendous amount of time and effort to get the funding with even more effort to complete the work. When I first came, the church was cold, damp and literally falling apart.
There was a real sense of malaise which I think had affected the congregation and people really had written us off. In fact, we were told by some people that All Saints had no hope.
“Luckily we did have faith and saw the potential that All Saints had. We’ve worked with the funders and the City Council to transform the church to its former glory, something we are all immensely proud of.
All Saints isn’t just about a place of worship – we want it to be at the very heart of the community and we have lots of things planned so that people here begin to love it as much as we do.”
“It’s been a really emotional experience seeing the transformation take place. Literally six years to the day that I lost my first parishioner we held our first service on Easter Sunday, the first we’d held since the work had been completed. During the service, a rainbow shone through the glass into the church which I think people thought was a special effect!
It wasn’t but we took it as a sign that all the work we’d done was going to pay off. 74 people came that day and we’re hoping to get more and more people coming to the church, whether that’s for the Sunday service or for some of the events we’ve got planned.
“We’ve got a mid-summer ball in July, lots of things planned in the build up to the Centenary of the Armistice in November and every other Friday we’re inviting children and their families to come down for a hot chocolate and a cake to listen to a bed-time story in one of our lovely indoor tents, because we know that’s a simple pleasure that many children are denied.”
The church service is held every Sunday at 9:30am and a family service is held at 10:30am on the first Sunday of every month.
All Photographs by HSL Photography