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Restoring a place for the homeless

by Michael Ford last modified 27 Nov, 2020 09:02 PM

As our churches partner with local organisations to help the needy, Poole homeless charity Routes to Roots confirms that restoration work at its future permanent base continues to make progress.

Restoring a place for the homeless

Stonemason Sarah Klopper

Skilled professionals have been enlisted to help preserve a former Baptist church in Hill Street, destined to become a permanent hub for Poole’s rough sleepers and vulnerably housed.

Preservation of the former 19th-century church remains at the forefront of the renovations and stonemason Sarah Klopper and church organ expert Geoffrey Morgan, specialists in their field, have joined the restoration team.

As part of the Listed Building Consent granted to the charity earlier this year, Routes to Roots is required to safeguard features of special architectural and historic interest, which include the ancient stonework.

Sarah Klopper, who works as a stonemason at Salisbury Cathedral, will repair and relocate the memorial stones and carved stone signage.

Commenting on her involvement, she said:

“I'm looking forward to working on this project. There are so many buildings like this in the UK that are just crying out to be lovingly restored, and what better way to do that than to support the homeless community?”

Geoffrey Morgan, a local organist and Organs Adviser to the United Reformed Church, offered his services to salvage some pipework from the 19th-century organ, which has been unusable for many years following a fire. Some of the pipes may even be used to repair other organs.

The organ is of historic importance to the local area, as it dates from 1839 and was previously installed in the former St Paul’s Church in Poole. With Geoffrey’s help, it has been carefully dismantled and the keys, stop-knobs and brass plaque have all been cleaned.

Much of the organ itself, including the pipework, was damaged beyond repair, but the original organ case and console have now been preserved and mounted in the organ loft so that they can be appreciated by all who visit the new centre.

Commenting on the importance of preserving the Hill Street building’s legacy, the project manager of the renovations, R2R Trustee Kate Mellor said:

“The building was erected in 1815 as a Baptist Church and as such it is an important part of Poole's history. Our architect, Ken Morgan, has worked closely with the BCP Council conservation officer, Margo Teasdale, to find ways to bring the building into 21st-century usefulness, whilst retaining as many of the historic elements as possible.

“We would like to say a very big thank you to Sarah and Geoffrey for their time and expertise and who, alongside our team of professionals, are helping us to preserve this wonderful building for future generations to enjoy.”

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