St Paul’s Church was built in 1884, designed by Henry Shelmerdine, costing £8,000 to construct. Today that would be equivalent to just over a million pounds! It was built at a time when Widnes was expanding rapidly. Between 1865 and 1900 St Marie’s Lugsdale Road (now the VCA), St Ambrose, the library, Victoria Park and the first bridge across the Mersey were all built.
Through the years it has been home to multiple generations of families who have been part of the community and been baptised, married and had funerals in the church. It has also been a place for social events, children’s and youth work and much more.
In recent years the church and hall have been home to a thriving parent and tots group, Long Loaf community meal, small groups such as Sofa, Women’s Fellowship, Happy Monday’s, Connect Cafe and Young Adults. The church building has, however, started to show its age. There have been several issues identified as well as a sense that, with some investment, it could be a building fit for serving 21st century Widnes.
In early 2020 the church conducted a community survey asking members and those around us what they thought of the church’s contribution and what were the opportunities and challenges in the years ahead. Overwhelmingly St Paul’s was seen as a ‘good thing’ and there was appreciation of the work that the church was doing. Widnes was described as having great community spirit, something that has been repeatedly shown throughout the Covid pandemic. There were also many challenges shown through the survey: poverty, addiction, youth crime, loneliness and poor mental health being particularly marked.
As a church we believe that the best way to live a life that is flourishing and full of hope is through knowing and being transformed by the love of Jesus. Whatever issues our town faces we believe that love can make all the difference. We would love to see our buildings offering a place where that love can be shown whether that is through more space for parents and tots or groups that seek to build resilient mental health or Café spaces that bring people together to reduce loneliness. An improved and welcoming building brings with it all sorts of opportunities to serve our community as well as being a nicer (and warmer!) space for worship.
In 2020 we embarked on the redevelopment of the church building to enable it to be a place of welcome and focus for the local community and town. We seek to create an ‘Amazing Space’ that will endeavour to meet the social, physical, and spiritual needs of the parish and indeed the town.
Transform Widnes, made up of St John’s & St Paul’s Church of England churches.
St Paul’s PCC appoints a firm of architects to draw up plans for major improvements to the interior of St Paul's Church building. Including replacing the uneven floor, installing a new heating system, installing new toilets and refreshment area.
St Paul’s and St John’s Churches start working together as Transform Widnes
Building work starts which includes the replacement of the church floor, installation of electrical ducting and wiring, the installation of new underfloor heating system.
The floor and main heating work is completed!
Work begins on the toilets, entrances and cafe areas
Currently work has begun on the toilets, entrances and cafe areas as well as the AV and PA. We have funding for most of this phase.
The next phase is where we are still short of funding that is needed to open the building. As an idea of the kinds of things this phase will cover here are some of the items needed and their projected costs…
- 250 chairs @ £75 each = £18,750
- 150 coffee mugs @ £1 each = £150
- Outside lighting = £10,000
- A stage at the front = £1,800
- Cafe tables and chairs = £3,000
- Finishing the chancel floor = £5,500
- Deep cleaning ready to re-open = £5,500
- Final bits of the heating system = £7,150
- Improving the Vestry space = £5,000
- Final bits of the AV equipment = £5,250