Belfast Telegraph

Community backs bid to save historic Sailortown church

By Brett Campbell

A fundraising campaign to save one of Belfast's oldest buildings has raised over £2,000 as people rally behind efforts to spare St Joseph's Church in Sailortown from demolition.

A social evening, held in Duncairn Arts and Culture Centre on Friday night, raised almost £1,000 for the 19th century building after local businesses stepped in to support the Sailortown Regeneration Group (SRG).

"We were given full use of the church hall for free and Newington Credit Union came along with a cheque for £500.

"It went really well," fundraiser Terry McKeown told the Belfast Telegraph.

"We are so grateful for the support of local shopkeepers who donated prizes for the ballot," she added.

Over £500 has also been raised on the group's crowdfunding page.

Significant progress made in SRG's long-running campaign to transform St Joseph's Church into a centre showcasing the area's rich maritime and industrial heritage was dealt a major blow when a dangerous building notice was issued.

Last week Terry estimated the minimum cost of securing the deconsecrated building would be £30,000.

Now, following talks with Belfast City Council, Terry said she is hopeful that the 140-year-old structure can avoid the imminent threat of destruction.

"It seems they may have found a way for us to move forward," she explained. "They didn't give any specific details but I am expecting good news.

"I haven't seen anything in black and white yet. However, I think the council is becoming aware of how much support is out there."

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