An organisation campaigning for the reparation of the Agecroft Chapel has gained charity status to assist in their efforts.

The Agecroft Chapel Restoration Association (ACRA), founded last year, has been seeking new avenues to gain support and funding and have now officially become a charity.

The chapel, built circa 1903, was used up until the 1980’s when the building fell into ruin.

The association attended the Salford Histories Festival in Swinton to share what they have done so far and their future plans for the Gothic-style building in the heart of Agecroft Cemetery.

Salford Now spoke to Kennedy and other members last year, and provided an update into what has happened at the site since then.

Glenn Kennedy, spokesperson for ACRA, said: “12 months ago, we were a ragtag bunch of people outside the chapel demanding that the council restore it.

“We decided to set up an organisation. At the time it was a constitutional group, but we decided that now, to open more doors for us, we would get charity registration.

“We’ve achieved that only in the last week, which means we can now do private fundraising, events and open doors for grants, funding through the lottery and English Heritage.

Mr Kennedy expressed how becoming a charity has “opened so many doors” for the organisation.

He continued: “Now we can apply for certain grants, certain organisations that would not normally give money to a constitutional group.

“Most importantly we can organise events, so we can now ask people to donate money to help us. We can have events, do merchandise, we can do anything.”

Following a break-in at the chapel, Salford City Council have installed new fencing around the chapel in the past few weeks.

The old fencing around Agecroft Chapel. Image credit: Eva Shana

Mr Kennedy, a professional genealogist, added: “The old fencing that was around the building had been breached. Bearing in mind the building is in disrepair at the moment, it’s very unstable and there are a lot of dangers in there.

“What the council decided to do was put new 8ft fencing around the building and two new gates on the entrance to the driveway.

“The good thing is when contractors and work starts on the building its easy access for them to get into the building.”

Local politicians and the council have supported the project over the years, with ACRA working alongside the council to restore the building.

“We’re eventually going to take the lease of the building off the council. They have a lot of options of where we can generate funding,” Mr Kennedy added.

“They have a lot of contractors that work with them and work on behalf of English Heritage. The good thing with that is they are like an assistant to us.

“We’re working a team and that’s what we do. Its not only the council, but our local MP, Rebecca Long-Bailey and Salford City Mayor Paul Dennett, who are fully supportive of what we’re doing and what we’re trying to achieve.”

The plans for the chapel include a new extension, which could contain a number of new facilities for Agecroft Cemetery.

ACRA’s plans for the Agecroft Chapel. Photo taken by Lewis Gray.

The chapel’s restoration will be in three steps, as Kennedy outlined.

“The first stage will be to restore it as a manageable ruin. It means the chapel will be put in a safe state that people can actually go into it.

“It doesn’t mean that anyone can just walk in when they want. But it means there will be no damage done to the building and it won’t get any worse than it is now.”

The second stage is to restore the building, alongside adding a new extension to the existing chapel, but the cost of the building has sky rocketed.

Kennedy added: “The plans we have on show here today at the Salford Histories Festival are showing the plans fully restored with the extension on the side.

Preferred plans of a restoration at Agecroft Chapel. Photo taken by Lewis Gray.

“That is the preferred project that us and the council want to achieve. Unfortunately you’re talking a hell of a lot of money for that. We’re talking in excess of £3 million, maybe £4 million depending on how things go.

“There are plans to do the chapel without the extension, but we feel it opens a lot more doors, as it allows us to have a café without impacting on the structure of the historic building. We can have a florist in there, and things like memorial gifts and wreaths which are not available at Agecroft at the moment which other cemeteries have.”

In the next 12 months, ACRA hope for work on the first stage to have begun, but there are concerns that the building is in a delicate state.

Kennedy added: “Before we start thinking of moving on we’ve got to get [the first stage] done. Anyone who’s been to Agecroft and sees it now the vegetation has been moved, you can see it quite clearly when you enter the gates it’s not in a great state.

“Drone footage show some of the stones on the top are leaning forward, so we’re worried that more damage will be done with the weather.”

Mr Kennedy also appealed for people to get involved in helping save the chapel. He concluded: “If you’re from Salford and the local area means so much to you, then please come support us.

“We need people to come on board, this project needs a lot of people involved in it, more than what we’ve got. The committee members are experienced in their own fields, but as we grow there are other areas where we are not experienced on and we need them people.

“Obviously if you can come onboard and donate and help us, that would be great.”


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