For a number of years there have been discussions within the Parochial Church Council and the congregation about making the best use of the space in St Cuthbert’s Church and the church hall. Suggestions were put forward to dispose of the hall and to remove pews from the West end of the church so as to open out a space for community use and as a meeting room for church use. It was thought important to provide a small kitchen area and a WC with facilities for those with limited mobility as well to improve access to the church itself.
While the proposals were starting to take shape it was discovered that urgent repairs were needed to the roof of the South Aisle. This took priority and funds were raised to cover the necessary work. St Cuthbert’s is a Grade 2 listed building so was eligible for an English Heritage grant. This was secured, but with conditions imposed, namely that the church should be kept open for visitors and worshippers during the majority of daylight hours, and that the building must remain in use for a minimum of ten years following the grant. It had always been the practice to keep the church unlocked for as much of the week as possible so this stipulation posed no problems; and it was felt that proposals to create a community space were given added impetus by the need to keep the building in use for a further ten years.
Currently the church hall is in the process of being sold which will release capital for the development of the community space as well as freeing the ongoing funds previously used for the maintenance of the hall. Plans are being drawn up and costed for conversion work on the church and for replacing a number of the existing pews with stackable chairs.
Future plans may include providing a parking area to the north of the building with added access into the church.
On the next page there is an illustrated article describing the work which was carried out on the South Aisle roof during 2014. It originally appeared in the second issue of Tethera, the magazine covering the villages of Seascale, Gosforth and Drigg. It is reproduced here by kind permission of the authors, Tom Jones and David Davies and the compiler of the magazine, Trevor Preese. (See http://www.trpub.net to read all issues of Tethera.)