Work has begun on the £5m restoration of a nineteenth-century church near Waterloo.
St John’s Waterloo, on Waterloo Road near the station, is now closed until spring next year after work began on July 5.
The project will restore the central nave as a place of worship and a concert and events space. The semi-derelict crypt will be transformed into a place for community, arts, wellbeing, employment, and youth initiatives. Other parts of the project include better toilets and meeting rooms.
Raising most of the £5m needed to restore the church took ten years, according to the vicar – and work was then delayed another year by the Covid-19 pandemic. The church is still £150,000 short of the total and continues to ask for donations to cover its costs.
The Revd Canon Giles Goddard added: “St John’s opened in 1826 to serve a burgeoning population of working people on the South Bank. During the Second World War, a firebomb devastated the nave but services continued, and the crypt provided shelter.
“In 1951, St John’s was restored and rededicated as the official church of the Festival of Britain. Now, in the wake of the pandemic, we need more than ever for our magnificent Grade II* church to be here for everyone, a place where we can come together to grow and to heal.”
The new designs were made by Eric Parry Architects, who said they were looking to create a sense of “the open door”.
Eric Parry added: “The project is wonderful because of the simultaneity and diversity of people involved and because these spaces are able to deliver a sense of tranquillity and introspection in a world that is so manic and so stressed, their value is enormous and this is why this project is so important.”
The church’s congregation will worship at St Andrew’s Short Street. Canon Giles added: “St John’s may be closing until next spring but we’re still here for you. Everyone is welcome to drop in and see us at St Andrew’s (just off The Cut) and our beautiful churchyard garden at St John’s will continue to be open for everyone to enjoy.”
Go to https://stjohnswaterloo.org/reignite to donate to the restoration project.