On Sunday 10th August we said our last Mass in St Joseph’s Church before the start of major renovation work. There will be no access to the church until the work is complete.At the end of the Mass there was a slightly chaotic procession of furniture and books out of the foyer and into the church hall. This had to be stopped for while to allow a Baptism to take place in the church!
We have been able to set up a little chapel in the hall using 3 of the pews and piles of chairs from the church. The back room of the hall – a notorious “dumping ground” for “stuff” – has now been divided in two. The back half has become a store room for excess tables and chairs, children’s toys (once used by the playgroup) and various other items of unknown origin and ownership. This back area has been partially screened off allowing the other half to be the temporary sacristy and confessional.
There is always a concern that for various reasons contractors might be delayed in starting their work. Fortunately our main contractors duly turned up during the week to prepare the site ready for the official start of work the following Monday – the official start date. Externally the first visible sign was the positioning of a portaloo beside the church. This was soon followed by portakabins and security fencing that swallowed up half of our car park. Before the end of the first week the scaffolding was in evidence. The welcoming figure of Christ, usually positioned high on the wall of the church, has been removed to a place of safety away from the ladders and poles.
The first internal task for the contractors has been to wrap and / or store the remaining fixtures. Pews have been removed from the nave and neatly stacked, in rows 3 high, in the foyer, while the altar, sitting on a concrete plinth, is to be boxed in. The crucifix and font are to be packed and stored elsewhere, along the with the Stations of the Cross. In no time the carpets were up and a large hatch cut into the floor to allow the condition of the solum to be ascertained. Eventually the whole of the floor will be removed.
Weekday Masses are taking place at the usual times (i.e. every day except Tuesdays) in the church hall. The Sunday Masses are being celebrated at Holy Family Church in Mastrick while the renovation work is taking place. For those arriving at St Joseph’s for weekday Masses it might at first seem that there is no access to the hall, but there is a narrow path beyond the Contractor’s security fence. All are welcome; we have space for 7 or 8 cars in our car park and there is usually some room in the public car park on the other side of Tanfield Walk.