Mixed emotions over demolition of Grantham church

Demolition of the Church of the Epiphany in The Grove, Grantham, has begun.

Demolition of the Church of the Epiphany in The Grove, Grantham, has begun.

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The demolition of a church on the Earlesfield estate in Grantham, which was closed in 2011, began this week.

The Church of the Epiphany, in The Grove, was closed in 2011 due to health concerns over asbestos. Demolition began on Tuesday. There are plans to build four houses on the site.

Steve Pears, facilities projects manager with the Lincoln Diocese, said the demolition would take between a week and 10 days. He said the church, which was built in the 1970s, had been ‘riddled’ with asbestos but this was removed last year.

Mr Pears added: “It was very disappointing when the church closed. But it was built in the 1970s with the wrong materials. It was riddled with asbestos. It was not cost effective to do anything with it.”

The Lincoln Diocesan Trust and Board of Finance applied for planning permission to demolish the church after it was closed by South Kesteven District Council in September 2011.

A ‘potential risk of exposure to asbestos fibres arising from the fabric of the building’ was the reason stated for the closure, as well as references to areas of ‘disrepair and deterioration’ inside the church.

The current church had replaced another church on the site.

A nearby resident, who asked not to be named, said a lot of people were upset by the loss of the church. She said: “I think a lot of people are quite miffed about it really, because that land was donated by the Brownlow family.

“People in the area raised money to build the church so all round it’s quite sad.

“It seems senseless and now they are going to build four more houses on the land.”

Parish priest the Rev David Shenton said the building could not be saved. He said there were structural issues with the building as well as the presence of asbestos.

But he said worship in Earlesfield continued to be strong and there were regular services in the youth centre on Trent Road. These are held every first and fourth Sunday of the month at 10am.

The Rev Shenton, who is also chaplain at several schools in the area including West Grantham Academy St Hugh’s, added: “We meet in a secular building which has lots of energy from the young people who meet there on a regular basis and I like to think we hallow that ground by using it and give it an extra dimension by leaving some of our own energy in that place.”

He added: “People on the estate, especially in The Grove, are quite upset that the church has gone, but the building was unsaveable. It was not possible to go any other way than for it to be demolished. It was not just about the asbestos. There were other issues with the building such as the steel frame.

“Who knows what will happen in the future in terms of a church building.”

Journal readers have responded on social media to news of the demolition, many of them with fond memories of attending the church for services or to be married or baptised.

Brenda Jean Dawson said: “What a shame. Used to use that a lot when younger, brownies , discos , you name it we did it at the church. Good old days .”

Joyce Ann Markham said: “There has been a church on that site for as long as I can remember so I think they should put a new church on the site.”

Pam Martin-Davison commented: “Remember when we all helped as the old church was demolished and this church was built?”

The Diocese of Lincoln was given planning permission last year for four terraced houses to be built on the site.

To see a video of the demolition go to www.granthamjournal.co.uk