The Reorder of St. Thomas, Werneth

The project

St. Thomas' is a beautiful Grade II listed building, reflecting the largesse of those who originally built the church. However the parish is currently among the 2% most deprived parishes in the country.

Work on multiple changes to the church building to enable the community to make greater use of the building has now been signed off, and is very nearly complete. The building is now in use:

The changes involved:

  • replacing the seating with stackable chairs; and a few stackable pews;
  • replacing the church heating with a modern, efficient, working system;
  • providing an access ramp for people in wheelchairs and buggies;
  • upgrading the toilet so that it can be used by those in wheelchairs, and with baby changing; and
  • putting a kitchen into the North side-aisle.

The Church is, of course, open for worship as usual - but in a warmer and more flexible space.

Fund raising

The total cost of the entire project was roughly £308,000.

This sounds a lot, but we were able to reclaim £50,000 in V.A.T; church members have made generous donations and we have been awarded a number of grants (see below).

Sadly, DRY ROT was discovered in the North transept, which is now watertight, and waiting to be treated.


As well as members of St. Thomas' congregation, past and present, we are grateful to the following for their support (those marked * awarded more than two grants over the last few years):

£ 91,844 - Viridor Credits
£ 19,000 - Diocese of Manchester
£   9,875 - Growing Oldham: Feeding Ambition
£   8,000 - Oldham Mayoral Charities (2018-19)
£   5,250 - Allchurches Trust *
£   4,000 - Beatrice Laing Trust
£   2,800 - Oldham MBC*
£   1,200 - Duchy of Lancaster Benevolent Fund *


We were careful to ensure that the most significant elements of the building were not affected by the changes. So, for example, the pews were removed, but they came from another church, and were only installed in the early 1970s. A kitchen was installed in the N. side aisle, but we ensured none of the stained glass windows were obscured. The wonderful sanctuary, windows, porch, and baptistery were not affected. In fact the interior of the church is now lighter, more open, and the above items can be appreciated all the better! Historic England had no objection to the plans

From the parent forum of St. Thomas
CE Primary School: This idea will help bring people from different backgrounds and cultures together to learn, exercise, talk and meet new people by having various classes including cooking, sewing and yoga etc. . . . Many other ideas have been discussed such as ICT, Reading and English classes which can benefit the whole community. Other programmes which are to do with health e.g. to reduce Cholesterol, depression, feeling alone and diabetes through exercise or by diet . . . These ideas have been outlined by parents from the local area.

I would like to make new friends and join children sports clubs.

People in our community will become more united.

I think this is a brilliant idea. Having a community centre would be great for all.

I'm interested in doing courses which will enable me to get a job. I would love to be able to make new friends too. This is a great idea.

I support the application as there are insufficient local venues for people to acess for activities without incurring great cost, given available income.

We really need a new heating system.

I think its a good idea so children have activiites to do over the holidays.

I would like to attend English Classses and learn how to drive.

A place to bring community together.

I will get to make new friends

Brilliant idea for the community, will turn out well.

St. Thomas' is a proven community asset. Further development would support them doing more.

Further Possibilities

  • Making better use of the church grounds, making them more attractive, and more biodiverse.
  • Ideas from the St. Thomas Parent's Group: parents and baby/young children drop in; toy library exchange; use of outside area for swings and slides; adult classes; show case different cultures through coffee mornings; cake making; cookery classes; healthy eating; sharing recipes from all cultures; offering lunches for older people in community; volunteer training for all languages; Maths and English classes; Summer School; Open Day before changes happen in Church; Religious Festivals; Sewing; Photography; ICT; Internet needed; Theory driving test; Job Club; COGS; Saturday School; Intense English Courses; Community Champions

Make a Donation

We have still not completed paying for the work - and more remains to be done. If you would like to make a donation, you can do so through Easy Fundraising. Thank you.

What next?

These changes have improved the fabric of the building, and preserve the beauty of its heritage. We want the church building better to become a place of learning, growth and support for all people, whatever their age, culture, or religious affiliation - offering accredited courses as well as informal activities for families and children.

We are working with St. Thomas Werneth CE Primary School in delivering some of these services. However what we offer to the community will not be limited to those associated with that school, but will be for everyone.

As a church we want to be the catalyst for enabling a range of different activities that help all members of the local community to reach their full potential.

These changes are breathing new life into our worshipping community and the wider community, as we seek to fulfil part of our Christian mission: working for justice and opportunity, and ensuring that all are able to flourish - in our community and beyond.

We seek to create a "mixed economy" around St. Thomas', and indeed St. Paul's church as well, initiating activity ourselves, but also playing host to partners who are also seeking the good of the community.

Specific issues

Tiles at the entrance to the Church

The tiles at the back of church have been tidied and extended, leaving them better than before. Cupboards have been installed.

The new kitchen

The kitchen is complete.

The Dry Rot Problem

Discovery of Dry Rot was a problem. It has been contained but is still to be resolved.

The new entrance ramp

The Access Ramp is finished.