Express & Star

Wolverhampton church restoration plan moves step closer

The restoration of a Victorian church which has been derelict for 20 years is a step closer to fruition after the plans were approved.

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St Thomas Church

St Thomas’s Church in Finchfield, Wolverhampton, was originally a school before serving as a mission church for more than 80 years until 1997.

Proposals to revive the quaint church, which is next to the Lidl supermarket in Oak Hill, have been muted in recent years but had failed to get off the ground.

That was until earlier this year when Terry and Margaret Wilkes of Windmill Community Church set their heart on restoring the church and making it their home.

The sale of the site has yet to be finalised - but Wolverhampton council has approved the scheme which would involve repairs and an extension.

Terry Wilkes inside the derelict church

Repairs will include restoring the walls, windows, roof and main door.

Inside it is proposed to repair the church’s tiled floors and install a new heating system.

The extension will be to the rear and there will be a ramp to the main entrance of the building.

Lidl are also involved in the scheme as it would provide the supermarket with an additional 10 car parking spaces.

Mr Wilkes, aged 69, of Wombourne said he was pleased planning permission had been approved but said it was not yet a certainty the restoration would take place.

He explained: "The owner will only sell to us and Lidl together.

"We have exchanged contracts on the church but it is subject to satisfactory planning consent.

"We have got 15 days now to decide if we are proceeding."

The church dates back to 1875. It was a school but that function ended when its teacher was called up to assist in the supply of munitions during the First World War.

It was then a church until 1997. Its 25-strong congregation were left devastated when it was closed.

Windmill Community Church is independent and considers itself a contemporary Christian fellowship with Sunday services featuring guitars and sermons relevant to modern life.

It has grown from around four members when it was ‘planted’ in 2013 to around 25, with the age range from 21 weeks to 91 years.