Sanctuary Church gets a makeover
Published on: 05 Oct 2014
A POPULAR landmark in the heart of Staple Hill has been given a make-over, causing pedestrians to stop and remark how it has helped brighten up the area.
The Sanctuary Church, on the High Street, was once known as Staple Hill Picture House and thousands flocked to catch a glimpse of their idols on the big screen.
But the popularity of television meant interest in cinema slowly waned and the building, which was later know as the Regal Cinema, became a bingo hall in 1963 before eventually closing in 1992.
The building was given a new lease of life when the Sanctuary Church took over in 1999.
But its façade had taken a battering over the years with pollution from the heavy traffic discolouring its original pale stone work.
Now the side and rear of the building, which stretches along Pendennis Road, have been given a make-over and there is hope the front will be next in line for some tender loving care.
Builders moved in during August to re-render, damp seal and paint the whole of the east wall and rear with all the unused windows and doorway blocked up and blended in.
Church administrator Tim Owen said minister Nigel Farmer decided to use funds from money the congregation had donated during services to pay for the work.
“It’s been the most extensive renovation and decorating job since we moved into the building 15 years ago,” Mr Owen said.
“Due to the arrival of rain at the end of August the work was delayed a little, but with much dedication and hard work the builders completed in the first week of September.
“We wanted to look after the building, show good stewardship and give the community a much nicer visage to look at.
“There was a bit of graffiti at the back and it was dirty, worn and tatty. There were wires hanging down and the pollution from all the cars had blackened some of the walls. It was definitely in need of renovation.”
Mr Owen said the work has gone down well with residents.
“We’ve had really positive feedback from the community. The builders told me they were stopped by a few people who wanted to say how nice it looked. An elderly lady told them that seeing the new-look building had really brightened her day.
“When we first mentioned the work during a Sunday morning service, the congregation just broke out into a spontaneous round of applause. That was quite nice!
“We are hopeful that the new appearance of the building will demonstrate to the community that we take our stewardship of these premises seriously and are keen to make a positive impact on Staple Hill and show the love of God through every means we can.
“We’d like to do the front of the building and touch up the stone work and that’s vaguely on the horizon but nothing has been confirmed yet. We felt the side of the building should be done first as it’s at least 50 meters long so is a much bigger area for people to look at.”
The church has made a positive impact since setting up home in January 1999. Regular events and activities include a dance club, Happy Hands parents and toddler group, and a weekly keep fit class. The church is also heavily involved in the annual Christmas on the Hill event.
A cinema evening to commemorate the centenary of beginning of the First World War will take place at the Sanctuary Church on Saturday October 18 at 7pm. The event is being run in conjunction with the Royal British Legion. Ring 956 3300 for details.
Do readers have any memories of the old Regal cinema? If so we would love to hear from you. Please email firstname.lastname@example.org with your stories.