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Fundraising campaign launched to save fire ravaged Wolverhampton church

Wolverhampton | News | Published:

A fundraising campaign has been launched to restore an historic Wolverhampton church that was ravaged by fire last year.

Flames tore through the Darlington Street Methodist Church in March 2014, causing severe damage to two floors and adjacent offices of the Grade II listed building.

Since then church officials have been working to make the building safe and fully accessible to worshippers.

Some areas have been restored and are in operation, but officials say they need to raise additional funds to help with the project.

Last week the the West Bromwich Building Society got the ball rolling with a donation of £3,000.

Darlington Street Methodist Church, Wolverhampton

Ken Collins, a retired Methodist minister and regular at the church, said: "We are extremely grateful to the West Brom for the donation.

"We are looking to raise a sizeable sum of money, hopefully through donations and matched funding, to make the church and community buildings safer, more comfortable and more accessible for the groups that use them.

"We have nearly 1,000 visitors each week using the church and the community areas so it's going to make a huge difference to a large number of people.

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"As a listed building, it takes some time to get the all-clear for any work which needs to be carried out. While we have remained open throughout, some of the repair work after the fire has just been re-started.

"Along with that, it is fantastic that we are continuing to receive money for other vital improvements from the West Brom and other donors."

Amongst the groups regularly using the Darlington Street Methodist Church is the Little Brothers of the Good Shepherd, which provides meals for the homeless and the needy, the Fair Trade Organisation and Interfaith Wolverhampton.

The blaze - which took 60 firefighters two hours to bring under control - gutted the first floor church hall, forcing the city's Asian Christian Fellowship to search for new premises.

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Floor joists were burned through and the sound system destroyed. The altar and pulpit were both blackened by smoke but survived.

Church officials said at the time that desk drawers in a church office were ransacked, prompting suspicions that the fire had started during an attempted burglary.

The West Bromwich Building Society's donation was made through the Mercian Community Trust, a partnership between the Society and the Diocese of Lichfield to support community groups and charitable causes in the region.

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