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Friday, 27 September 2013

Making way for the new at Victoria Park

Rev. Brendan Bassett of Victoria Park Baptist Church in Bristol has sent some photos of the demolition of their church hall, which will be replaced by a new hall plus accommodation developed in partnership with Elim housing. These are the first physical signs of a long term project, Operation Nehemiah, which was under discussion for the whole of Geoff Starling's time working as WEBA's Trust manager. We thank God for the patient endurance of all concerned, and pray that God will bless this work for his mission in this part of South Bristol.

Brendan writes: One of the very interesting aspects of the architecture of the original hall is it reflected the architectural times. It mirrored what was known in the 1950's through to mid 1970's as the 'Brutalist Style' (or Brutalism) of building design which often featured high and sharp angles, which supposedly reflected what going on at the time of post war and cold war anxieties. Critic's of the movement often described brutalism as cold and unappealing.

This picture shows the demolition of the old vestry and hallway. Brendan writes: Although I am now the second longest serving minister I was almost the shortest! In Nov 2001 during my first ' VPBC winter' I put on the gas fire in the vestry and after while felt myself becoming very drowsy and nodding off. By God's grace I turned the fire off. It transpired that whoever had 'repaired the roof' the previous year had covered over the gas exhaust flu, although I laughed it off at the time it should have been reported to the HSE.
 This photo shows the now uncovered underground boiler room (still flooded!)
 Anyone whose has been at VPBC for a few years probably has their own stories about feeling cold or the heating breaking down. My worst memory was Christmas Day in 2011, it was a brutal winter and the outside temperature at 10am was -6C. When I got to church to open up for worship the heating had failed. I descended into the basement to discover the entire system was covered in ice, like scene from the North Pole. The temperature inside the church was -2C. I remember we had to wrap up a few elderly people with blankets and I cut things down to about 20mins!
I’m told that the basement has always flooded ever since it was built and a pump had to be permanently left on. I suppose if we were keeping the basement and as it loves water it could have become a congregational Jacuzzi (good for home groups and meetings), or perhaps a ministers private hot tub…
This picture shows the St Johns Lane trees now down. They were not very old but totally inappropriate to the proximity of the building. We will have some garden in the new development and we can perhaps plant some things that will be more appropriate, maybe some shrubs or box hedges.

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