Rochdale community at heart of National Lottery funded heritage project

Tuesday 17th May 2022

An iconic church in Rochdale is embarking on an inspiring project to engage the community and preserve its rich cultural heritage, thanks to a six-figure funding grant.

St John the Baptist RC Church in Rochdale has been awarded £678,400 from the National Lottery Heritage Fund to kickstart outreach projects in the local community and help preserve its stunning building for future generations.

This Grade Il Byzantine-style church is one of just five churches and cathedrals in the UK to receive a share of the £5.5 million fund to help conserve historic buildings, whilst paving the way to engage and inspire 21st– century communities.

The funding, made possible thanks to National Lottery players, will play a major role in St John’s ambition to diversify and connect with people from the town’s rich tapestry of cultural traditions.

St John’s stands at the gateway of Rochdale’s Heritage Action Zone and has always been a popular working church in this multi-cultural community and has a strong desire to see its doors open to all.

As such, the community will be at the very heart of this exciting project, making the church a place to share stories, preserve the local heritage, and welcome young and old to gain new skills and new friends.

This volunteer-led project aims to bring the extraordinary history of St John’s to life through a series of activities, such as oral histories, a nature project, guided tours, digital resources, and mosaic masterclasses, in celebration of one the church’s most celebrated features.

The magnificent mosaic masterpiece, which adorns the sanctuary of the church will be conserved, thanks to this project. It will also help preserve the iconic dome which has dominated the Rochdale skyline for almost 100 years.

A spokesperson from St John the Baptist RC Church said: “We are delighted and so grateful to have been awarded such a fantastic sum from the National Lottery Heritage Fund.

“This funding will open the door to an exciting new chapter for our church as we work to ensure our treasured heritage remains a much-loved and active part of the evolving Rochdale community for generations to come.”

Eilish McGuinness, Chief Executive of The National Lottery Heritage Fund, said: “We’re proud to continue to support the great cathedrals and churches within our communities. They not only offer people a space for worship but also a quiet space for reflection. We are seeing a movement of using these great religious spaces in new ways – partly to engage with more people within our communities but also to ensure they have a sustainable stream of revenue for the upkeep. By supporting projects such as these, we can help them diversify and ensure these buildings are conserved for the future.

“These spaces make our communities better places to live, creating jobs, supporting local economies, driving tourism and making heritage more accessible to others. Thanks to National Lottery players, these historic buildings can be protected and continue to evolve and engage a wider range of people with its heritage.”

The NLHF grant also helped unlock funding from Viridor Credits, Benefact Trust, National Churches Trust, Wolfson Foundation, The Prince of Wales’s Charitable Fund, Churches Conservation Foundation and Manchester Guardian Society Charitable Trust.

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Tagged | Around the Diocese | Catholic Church | John the Baptist | Parishes

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