Following the massive fire which gutted The Church of the Ascension in Lower Broughton last month, many feared that the Grade II listed building would have to be demolished. However, this week, the Ascension's Priest David Wyatt told the Salford Star that he hoped to have the church open again for the community within three or four years.
"It's got to be re-roofed, the masonry repaired, and the beautiful limestone columns inside have to be strengthened and restored to their proper size" he explained "And the hope is to create something that is really beautiful and useful as well. It's the only old building left in Lower Broughton so we think it's very important.
"It's where people's memories are" he added "They were christened here, married here, funerals were held here; it's very important that we don't take people's memories away. There's also a very large crypt under this church and it was always my hope that one day we would get down to creating a useful facility there, and maybe we shall have this now."
The Church of the Ascension was covered by insurance for basic structural repairs "but we shall be looking to raise funds to do the things that will be really useful to this community" Father Wyatt said.
"People have been incredibly generous; we raised £85,000 in the last ten years to do the work that we have done, renewing the roof, which was match funding for grants, and we're deeply sad that it all seems to be lost" he added "But again, people are being very generous and we're deeply grateful."
Father Wyatt was particularly thrilled by pupils from the Albion Academy who handed over £750 towards the restoration after a non-uniform day at school.
"All the students and staff put a donation into the bucket, no matter how big or small" says Julie Ward, site manager at the school and also a flying officer with the school's Combined Cadet Force "The cadets wanted to fundraise for the Church to help its restoration. It's incredible that we can get together for the local community."
A JustGiving page, set up by resident, Jaime Wise, has now also hit over £2,700*, while a candle light vigil to show community unity recently drew around 150 people.
Father Wyatt, meanwhile, is seeing positive signs everywhere that The Church of the Ascension will rise from the ashes, from the Church's bees which survived the inferno, to the 148 year old Manchester poplar trees that are still standing within the grounds...
"Please God when the spring comes they'll come to leaf and not be damaged in any way" he said "It's amazing."
*To donate via the JustGiving page click here
See also previous Salford Star articles:
Battle To Save The Church of the Ascension After Huge Fire click here
Salford Church Fire Fund Launched As Demolition Crews Stand By click here