A church congregation is a step closer to returning to the building where it used to worship.
Members of the Hope Methodist Church in High Street, Higham Ferrers, held their last service there about 10 years ago and left the building due to the cost of maintenance and renovation to join with Park Road Methodists in Rushden.
The Park Road site was then sold and the Methodists have been worshipping at St Peter’s Roman Catholic Church in Rushden since then.
However, the dream of returning to Higham Ferrers has moved a step closer this week with the arrival of a temporary building which they hope to move into by the end of August.
The Rev Margaret Eales, superintendent minister for the Hope Methodist Church and Nene Valley circuit, said: “On June 1 last year it was decided to renovate the old building in Higham Ferrers and it’s gone a bit manic since then.
“We have asked for permission from all the people that we have to, such as the Methodist church and the council, to get permission on the understanding that the facade of the building cannot be renovated or demolished but we can do other things inside it.”
The project is likely to cost about £1.6 million, and the Revd Eales added: “We have already raised some of that because we have bought the temporary building and the demolition of the old building is complete.
“The asbestos has gone, the oil tank has gone and the dry rot has mostly gone.
“We can’t do the renovation until it has completely dried out and the water in the walls has reduced.
“But we are hoping it will dry out during the summer and next winter.”
Her dream is for them to be back in the old church within three years, and she said the project is as much about the community as it is the church.
If planning permission is given, they want to put a new floor into the church so it becomes two-storey and the church will be based upstairs while downstairs will be for community use, including play areas, meeting rooms and a large kitchen.
She said: “The idea is that we would like it to be open 24-7 if people want it and it means that worship can happen upstairs and downstairs is for the community.”
Fundraising is ongoing and The Revd Eales said they have had great support from shopkeepers in the town who have had collection boxes for them, but they will also have to apply for grants to reach the target.
She said: “We are doing fundraising in many ways, but we have got to get the grants in because they are what’s going to make the difference.”
It is hoped the building, which will be available for hire, will be used by people in Higham Ferrers as well as Rushden when it’s finished.
But until it is completed, it is hoped that the temporary building will provide a venue for services, local groups and somewhere to hire for events.
Anyone who would like to contribute to the fundraising can send cheques payable to ‘Hope Redevelopment Fund’ to the redevelopment treasurer at 61, Oaks Drive, Higham Ferrers, NN10 8EY.