Urgent works to stabilise the Sheerness Dockyard Church will be completed this week, as part of an £8m regeneration project.
Due to years of neglect and the impact of the weather, the building required securing. Some structures have now been replaced and vegetation and asbestos has also been removed.
The Sheerness Preservation Trust acquired the building in 2015 and received more than £4m from the Heritage Lottery Fund. This has significantly boosted their efforts and since January work has been focused on propping the tower, which should be completed in the first week of February.
Luke Barney, Assistant quantity surveyor for Coniston, said: “The main issue was the bell tower – with no lateral support to the building, the bell tower was in desperate need. We put steel supports in to try and tie it to keep it from falling.”
The main phase of the development is set to begin in the next 12 to 18 months. The Trust hopes that the Church can become a place for young people in particular to learn skills and gain advise to prepare themselves for the business world.
Simon Hawkins, Project Manager at the Preservation Trust, said: “The opportunity will be for more young pimple to get some business advise, have an office and a desk, meet similar like-minded people, have business meetings here and generally network.”
A model of the Sheerness Dockyard has survived since the early 1800s, it covers 1600 square feet and is in the custody of English Heritage today. The model will be part of a display gallery, alongside a virtual reality interpretation made by local young businesses.
Mr Hawkins added: “It is a huge model of the docks as they were designed in the 19th century and it’s going to come back here to be on display. So people can see the position of the church in the old naval dockyard.”
With the aim to finish the work by 2021, the Preservation Trust hopes to return the building back to the community and produce a social benefit to the local people.