A NEW dawn has broken for St Philip’s in Dorridge following a ground breaking ceremony to signal the start of work on a brand new church on the site.
Delegates, including the Bishop of Birmingham David Urquhart, Dame Caroline Spelman, West Midlands Mayor Andy Street and Saqib Bhatti, MP for Meriden, as well as members of the congregation gathered to witness the historic event.
Former church warden Richard Arbuthnot, who has co-ordinated the re-development with construction firm Kier, said the intention was to build a multi-purpose centre for all the community, and not just the church.
“There will be a drop-in cafe, creche, sports hall, kitchen and coffee lounge, the main worship has been designed as a concert hall by the people who did the Birmingham Conservatoire,” he said.
“We want it to be used in its totality by the community to put the heart back into Dorridge.”
St Philip’s was built in 1878 as a chapel of rest, but problems with subsidence quickly surfaced.
Efforts to re-build it first started in 1896, but these ran out of money – until now.
In 2011 the Parochial Church Council agreed to demolish the building and plans for a new multi-purpose structure were drawn up.
Kier were appointed in 2012.
Richard said the entire project had been made possible through the generosity of the congregation.
“We’ve received grants and bequests but the bulk of the money, more than £3million has come from the congregation,” he said.
And the fundraising doesn’t stop there.
“That’s for the main building but we are hoping to raise another £950,000, hopefully so the work can run consecutively, to add facilities for the community.
“We’re nearly there – this project has been going for nine years.
“Phase 1 should hopefully be finished by the end of next April and if we can carry on the whole project should be completed by August.”
As part of the ceremony, memorial pebbles created by the congregation and members of the local community were buried in the foundations as a lasting tribute.
The pebbles bear messages to honour and remember loved ones, special events and wonderful memories associated with St Philip’s.
Kier will be re-fitting a stained-glass window from the previous building while to avoid harming the trees on site, it has established a no dig construction solution to help protect their tree roots.
Mark Pausey, managing director at Kier Regional Building Central, said: “When complete this purpose-built facility will offer a new worship space and provide a welcoming centre for all ages in the local community to enjoy.”
Duncan Hill-Brown, Vicar of St Philip’s, added: “It has been a very long journey over several years to get to this point but the Kier team has been professional and so supportive at every stage.
“It feels as though the planning process has been a genuine partnership and we look forward to seeing the heart put back into the heart of Dorridge.”