14/08/2008

St Albans, Retford, RIP


St Albans Church, Retford, has been burnt out.






This won't mean much to you but the church was important to me for a while and to hear of its demise and to watch it on Youtube (and here) is saddening. (BBC account.)

The building had been closed for many years. It had been subjected to vandalism, graffitti, calculated theft of wooden carvings and furniture, and now (probably) arson.
It was built at the start of the twentieth century. There was never enough money so it was completed in sections - in 1901, 1912, and 1936 (from memory). It saw its century before it closed. From the 1930s to the 1950s it was thriving though, like so many others, membership shrank steadily through the following decades. For a while in the 1990s it took on new life as a local community arts centre.
But finances were always against it (and there were several other Anglican churches nearby) and the decison was made to close.
No-one was hurt in the fire. A fireman was shaken when the cherrypicker he was on toppled onto the church as the road gave way beneath it. Residents of The Hollies, a residential home for the elderly I once used to visit, were evacuated.
It's too soon to say what will happen to it now. I guess the choice is between being demolished (if its unsafe) or using the shell to build a new structure. Again, it'll be down to finance.







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