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The National Lottery Heritage Fund Project

In 2018 a group of five parishioners decided they would have a go at putting together a National Lottery Heritage Fund application. The project was, of course, far more complex than they could have imagined and took far more time.

If you are thinking of making an application to the National Lottery Heritage Fund, feel free to contact the Parish Heritage Officer. The following 200 words should give you some idea of how we framed our proposal.

‘St John the Baptist RC Church, a Grade l l* Byzantine-style masterpiece, stands at the gateway to Rochdale’s     Heritage Action Zone and is currently on the Heritage at Risk Register due to water-ingress. The essential renovation will ensure the iconic dome and magnificent mosaics are protected and can be celebrated by new and diverse audiences.

St John’s is a working church in a multi-cultural community that has always been a place of congregation but now is opening its doors with a new and more inclusive welcome offer. Following extensive consultation there will be a variety of activities on offer including mosaic masterclasses, oral histories, a nature project and guided  tours, whilst an interactive website and social media will showcase St John’s heritage. Digital learning by the parish project team has enhanced the team’s ambition to engage with a wide audience.

The future of the church as a heritage site will be secured through our established project plan, our diverse Board and Salford Diocese which has provided professional support and finance. Working with Key Partners and stakeholders has ensured that there is a strategic fit for St John’s within Rochdale and Greater Manchester.’

External view of St Johns at transport gateway to Rochdale

Once the building work was underway and the mosaic was being cleaned and repaired, the parish team organised with the building contractors, Aura, a series of Hard Hat Tours. Groups of 12 to 15 visitors were given a brief history of St John’s, a health and safety talk, and the necessary PPE including hard hats and fluorescent yellow vests. Visitors were given the opportunity to see high level repairs by going up to the dome in the ‘Spider’ or by scaling the ladders and scaffolding to obtain a close-up view of the restored mosaic. Others tried their hand at bricklaying before the whole group went outside to see about the complex work that was underway in the repairs to the dome.

The following takes you to a report from the Manchester Modernists who sent us this link to their Hard Hat Tour experiences and reflections.

hart hart tour

The following video tour of St John’s was made before our application to the National Lottery was complete and therefore before any restoration work had started. It was produced to give viewers an insight into this magnificent Church, why it was designated as a Grade II* listed building and why its restoration was urgent as it was, at that time, on the Buildings at Risk Register.

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