This report was printed in the Burton Mail on 21 February, with a photo spread.
A rapidly expanding church has given the Mail an exclusive peek into its ongoing renovations of a once-popular pub – as its official opening approaches.
The Christadelphians are coming towards the end of their year-long renovation of the former Boathouse, in Stapenhill, to turn it into a church meeting room.
This means the 130-year-old Burton church community will soon be able to move premises from Blackpool Street, where they have met since 1953.
Already the changes are obvious, with just fixtures, fittings and furniture to place inside in time for the grand opening.
It has taken some time to renovate because members of the church have done the majority of the work themselves in their spare time, to keep costs down. They needed to fit a new drainage system, strip out and re-fit all the electrics and plumbing, and replace the flat roof. It will be one of the first public buildings in Staffordshire to have a green drainage system.
The original character of the building has been very much preserved, but a new kitchen has been built in the old beer store.
The former pub reopened as River Tree Indian restaurant in 2010, after sitting vacant for more than two years. However, it closed down again just six months later due to lack of business.
Paul Tovell, a member of the church, said: “The intention is to move in over the next couple of months, vacating our current property in Blackpool Street, which has already been sold.
“There has been a lot of interest in the building from the community in Stapenhill, and we anticipate strong interest in seeing the building when it’s ready.”
Although a relatively small, family based church, the Christadelphians have doubled in size over the last decade and have spent three years looking for a new site with more potential for an expanding congregation.
From May 3 to 5, there will be an open weekend with tours for the public and exhibitions about the history of the Boathouse, the history of the Christadelphians in Burton – which stretches back to the 1880s – and an exhibition about the Bible. Further details will be available in April.
Once the building is operational, it will be open for public ‘Bible Hour’ talks at 6pm every Sunday evening (2:30pm on the first Sunday of the month).
Further information on the church will be available by visiting the website at www.bible4burton.com.
Reporter, Helen Kreft.