High hopes for tabernacle's restoration
EXTENSIVE work on Whitfield Tabernacle in Kingswood will get under way in 2021.
The Grade I listed building was left derelict following an arson attack and has been awarded £700,000 funding from West of England Combined Authority to rescue it.
The building dates back to 1741 when it was commissioned by George Whitfield, one of the founders of Methodism who preached to the miners and manual workers of Kingswood in the open air.
It was last used for services nearly three decades ago, but it is hoped by the end of 2021 visitors will be able to see inside the historic building.
The trustees of the Whitfield Tabernacle Trust, which is trying to restore the building, have had to use innovative ways to keep up momentum during 2020.
Despite Covid restrictions, some of the most urgent repairs were carried out over the summer and the downtime was used to put out to tender the extensive work of putting a roof on the building and connecting it to utilities.
Meetings made use of the “rule of six” to have trustees in one room together, while other supporters joined in the meeting online.
Trust secretary Kim Scudamore said: “The hybrid meeting seemed like the best way to hold our AGM. It wasn’t perfect, but it worked.
“We hope by the middle of 2021 to get the building to a point where people can visit and see some display boards about its history or perhaps attend talks. We need a roof, services, windows and it needs to be watertight.
“Longer term we’d like it to become a fully-functioning community building that would complement what’s already on offer in Kingswood. We have lots of ideas that we’re hoping to discuss face to face in 2021 once we’re allowed to.”