Bid to save Sheffield church for the community gains fresh support
Campaigners hoping to transform aÂ Sheffield churchÂ built for the city's steelworkers into a community hub say support for their plans is growing.
St Matthias ChurchÂ in StocksbridgeÂ closed thisÂ summerÂ after its congregation dwindled dramatically, and it has gone up for sale with a Â£300,000 asking price.
Numerous community groups have united in an attempt to take over the VictorianÂ building on Manchester Road and host everything from theatre performances to starter business units.
The Friends of St Matthias say backers now include Inyerface Arts, which runs artÂ and music sessions for children; Steel City Beacon Arts; Stocksbridge Music Festival;; Stocksbridge Town Council; the Women's Institute; and several small businesses and craft organisations.
The Stocksbridge Sustainable Energy Group also wants to use the buildingÂ as a zero-emission project, by placing solar panels on the roof, while Don Valley Railway believes it could be a railway station if plans to revive passenger train services to the suburb are realised.
The friends group is holdingÂ a public meeting at Stocksbridge Town Hall on Monday, December 17 at 7pm to update people on progress.
Samuel Fox, who founded the nearby steelworks, initiated plans to build St Matthias but he died in 1887, three years before it was consecrated.
Some local residents had called for the building to become a Wetherspoon, but the pub chain said it was not interested in the site.
Chris Bell, of the friends group, said: 'With its association with Samuel Fox,Â StÂ MatthiasÂ Church is a key building inÂ theÂ history of Stocksbridge.
'So if you wish to find out more, you are invited to see us on the 17th.'