The first phase of a £5m project to restore a historic church in Greater Manchester has concluded, helping to bring a much-loved community hub back to life.
Repairs on the 149-year-old Church of the Ascension in Salford began in October 2018, preceded by a blessing ceremony led by Canon David Wyatt and the Bishop of Manchester, Rt Revd David Walker. The event was also attended by community members, parishioners and pupils from neighbouring schools.
The building was destroyed in an arson attack in February 2017, devastating the community which had previously raised £250,000 towards its renovation.
Bolton-based Seddon, which has experience in dealing with historic properties and delivering complex projects of this scale, was appointed to deliver the £2.46m structural works and £2.5m interior works during this first phase. Work was completed on time, despite coronavirus restrictions being in place.
Completed works to date include the reinstatement of the structural elements of the building, such as columns, roof structures and coverings; stone and brick repairs; stained glass window and window guard replacements; and ceiling finishes.
The project is being funded via fire damage insurance facilitated by specialist insurers, Ecclesiastical, which used drone technology to assess the structure of the building. Manchester-based Buttress are the architects on the project, with Thomasons providing independent civil and structural engineering consultancy.
Canon David Wyatt said: “The completion of the first phase of restoration marks a major milestone on our journey to bring the church back to life.
“The arson attack was incredibly upsetting for the community, so to see the hard work being undertaken to restore it to its former glory is truly inspiring.”
John Shannon, divisional director at Seddon, said: “The Church of the Ascension is an important landmark in Salford and has brought joy to the community for generations. The arson attack in 2017 was devastating for everyone.
“It’s been an honour to work on this extensive restoration project to save a beautiful building from ruin and future-proof it for many years to come. We would like to offer our heartfelt thanks to Canon Wyatt and the community for their support throughout the first phase of the project.”
Michael Angell, church operations director at Ecclesiastical Insurance, said: “We were there on day one after the devastating fire, offering our expertise and reassurance to the church and local community.
“We have 130 years of experience in insuring churches and knew we could undertake the necessary repairs done – so it’s wonderful to see the first phase of the restoration work at the Church of the Ascension completed.”
Jenny Etheridge, architect at Buttress, said: “We are delighted to reach completion on the first phase of restoration work at Church of Ascension. This church is an important community resource and it’s been a pleasure to work with the PCC and the rest of the team to bring the building back to life.”