Midlands & East Anglia

Building Wollaston Baptist Church

Woolaston Baptist Church

A brand new £1.1 million Baptist Church and hall complex has been constructed in place of a late 19th century Baptist chapel and stone school building. The project began in February 2012 and was completed in October 2012.

Watson and Cox was the main contractor and the architect was JBKS Architects.

Jeremy Bell from JBKS Architects told Premier Construction about the project. He said:

“The old church was small, crammed with pews, had no disabled access and was inappropriate particularly in regard to the church’s ministry with disabled people. Nearby in Wollaston there is a disabled person’s care home, therefore people with sometimes severe disabilities and complicated wheelchairs use the church regularly.

“It was a completely inconvenient late Victorian building, so the idea was to build something more appropriate. For example the church also had outside toilets, completely inadequate kitchen facilities and the hall was minute.”

Woolaston Baptist Church

The new church has an open and flexible worship space, which is square and approximately 12 metres by 12 metres in size. The church is able to accommodate around 120 people and it has a pyramidal wooden ceiling with a skylight in the centre which fills the room with light.

There is also a full immersion baptistery sunk into the floor, as well as an AV desk and lighting gantry to allow for loudspeakers and spotlights.

Jeremy said:

“The church first came to us – as we are specialist church architects – with a refurbishment proposal and asked us to extend and integrate the two buildings, the church and the school house. When we presented to them the idea that extensions and refurbishments attract VAT but new church buildings do not, it seemed like an attractive option to pull down the old building and construct a new one.

“The old building was not listed and it wasn’t particularly ugly but it was cold, damp and set up like a 19th century Baptist chapel, not like a big open worship space that could be used flexibly in today’s world. We went through 11 design options for the new build, always trying to maximise the floor area but build it within their budget.

Woolaston Baptist Church

“Modern churches are not like old Anglican churches. They really are simple auditoria with seating, projection facilities and a decent sound system. Ones which take on that format are much more user friendly and they tend to grow because young people are not put off by this antiquated, old fashioned space.”

The new facilities also include a lobby with large glass doors opening onto the worship space, a large disabled toilet with changing facilities, an office and a large kitchen with a servery into the hall. There is a crèche with changing LED lights and upstairs, via a staircase or lift, there is a large hall, kitchenette and an office.

Jeremy added:

“The brick was very carefully chosen as it looks very similar to the old church. There was a lot of work done with the conservation officer to arrive at the right look and he was actually very helpful. There were no major planning objections and there was unanimous approval from the councillors at the planning meeting.

Woolaston Baptist Church

“The project was funded from donations within the church – it is phenomenal how sacrificial people will give to the future of an alive and vibrant church. This was an important project to be involved in because we really believe in the future of the church and we come to it with an understanding of the pressures that are on all the denominations, with declining congregations.

“Without decent facilities churches can’t really do anything and there’s huge commitment from the church’s congregation to get projects up and running, this is one of the success stories which is really inspiring.”

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