Wolverhampton church saved from demolition set to open as antiques emporium

A landmark church saved from the bulldozers will soon open its doors as a newly-transformed antiques haven.

St Luke’s Church in Blakenhall is being transformed into an antiques emporium
St Luke’s Church in Blakenhall is being transformed into an antiques emporium

St Luke’s Church has been out of action for almost a decade after £1 million repair costs forced the Grade II listed building to shut.

But the Blakenhall church is expected to welcome in the community once again when an antiques emporium launches in July.

Partner in the business Dave Usher said: "The work is done and we have started accepting tenants.

"It is a fantastic space. When you go into it, it looks like you are walking on to a Dracula site - it's all gothic.

"It will be great when it's full of people, that's what it needs."

Dave Usher gets ready to open the new antiques emporium

The church, which opened in 1861 and is next to St Luke’s School, was the birth place of St Luke’s FC - before it went on to become Wolverhampton Wanderers.

Costs to fix its decaying structure, including its spire, mounted and it was eventually sold for just £1 to Czero Developments last year.

Repair work has since taken place, including clearing blocked gutters, fixing slates on the spire, along with removing dry rot and damp.

One of the selling spaces in the new antiques emporium

Mr Usher, 61, said: "It was not being used, it was empty. This will breathe some life back into it and the community.

"We have made repairs to the church but we have not changed it.

"It has been welcomed by the community. I have had people walking past the church as saying hello, and that they can't wait for it to be open.

"It's bringing business into the area. I think everybody thinks it's a good use of the church. I think it's going to be a bonus to the area."

The antiques emporium at the Park Street South church will have room for about 30 traders, as well as a tea room and shops.

Traders looking to grab a spot in the emporium are invited to pop along to an open day at the church from 10am until 4pm on June 23.

Mr Usher added: "We will open the doors for prospective traders who would like to come over and look at the place.

"I'm very excited, I love the space. It's got a good feel about it.

"It lends itself to an antiques centre, exactly what we wanted to use it for. All we had to do was some general church repairs."

Plans to sell the church were supported by the Diocese of Lichfield, The Church of England and the vicar of the parish of St Luke’s, Richard Espin-Bradley.

In a document to the council, Andrew Mason from the Diocese of Lichfield, said: “I write in full support of this application to bring back into sustainable use this iconic Grade II listed building.

“This property is in a poor state of repair, appearing as it does on Historic England’s Heritage at Risk Register being designated as in ‘very bad’ condition.

“The proposal to convert the closed church into an antiques emporium, thus repairing and opening the church up to the wider public to enjoy is to be warmly welcomed.”

The Church Commissioners for England said selling the church to developers would ensure the 'important' building would remain in use.

Alan Guthrie-Jones, special projects manager at The Church of England, added: “The commissioners were pleased to secure what they regarded as a suitable alternative use of an antiques’ emporium after informative and helpful negotiations with the council’s conservation officer and Historic England.”

Traders can contact Mr Usher for information on 07970444046.

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