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Closure-threatened church subject of possible takeover

By Alex Ross | Tipton | News | Published:

Three community groups in Tipton have expressed an interest in buying a church which faces closure.

The Grade II-listed St Martin and St Paul Church will close under a current application from the Diocese of Lichfield.

The proposal to shut the Gothic church built in 1837 is down to a lack of resources for building maintenance.

However, Tipton Community Association, Tipton Civic Society and St Paul's Community Association have contacted the diocese about buying the church.

Civic Society chairman Keith Hodgkins said the joint venture could solve a problem faced by all three groups in not have a large enough venue.

He said: "There are two reasons behind this – to find a new use for the building; if it is closing we do not want to see it deteriorate and eventually disappear.

"Then there is a need for large performance space for both the Tipton Community Association and St Paul's Community Association.

"Both have bases which are now too small for their needs."

He added: "What we have done is make an expression of interest that we would be interested in acquiring the building.

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"We now wait to hear back from the diocese."

Tipton Community Association is based at Brook Street Community Centre, while St Paul's Community Association is located in Brick Kiln Street.

Mr Hodgkins said the church, which already has its permanent pews removed, could provide a space for musical shows and plays as well as exhibitions and meetings.

He said he hoped the church could still be used for religious services.

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He said: "So many people have memories of the church, it'd be a real shame for it to go.

"We, as a community, believe we can secure its future."

Closure of the church was first raised three years after the retirement of the incumbent.

Then, in the same year, it was discussed at a public meeting.

An interim minister was appointed to help with the potential closure.

Under the plans, the congregation will be moved to St Matthews Church, also in Tipton.

A spokesman for the diocese said: “A small number of Anglican churches are closed each year when they are no longer needed for worship.

"On these occasions, a suitable alternative use is normally sought which could include the building continuing to be used by another Christian organisation as a place of worship.

“There are plans to close St Martin and St Paul in Tipton as part of a wider proposal to reorganise local parishes.

"Provision has been made for worshippers from St Martin and St Paul to use the hall at nearby St John’s Church as a meeting place for worship.”

The consultation on the church closure ends on September 24.

Alex Ross

By Alex Ross
Investigations Editor - @alexross_star

Investigations Editor at the Express & Star. Everyone has a story - tell me yours.

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