19th century Southsea church opens shared workspace with coffee bar

A CHURCH in Southsea has opened The Host Space – a shared working space with upcycled furniture.

Tuesday, 28th January 2020, 10:13 am
Updated Tuesday, 28th January 2020, 2:08 pm
The church cleared of pews before the creation of the working space.

St Luke’s Church, in Isambard Brunel Road, has been refurbished to provide a coffee bar, high-speed wifi, and meeting spaces.

Mark Gandey, a member of the congregation who also helped oversee the development of Harbour Church’s coffee shop, helped create the space as a way to support new businesses.

He said: ‘We’re offering this space partly because local data shows an increase in young professionals in their parish.

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An artist's impression of the church after the redevelopment.

‘The Host aims to support new businesses, alongside making local entrepreneurs aware of common social issues in the area.’

As well as changing how its space is used in the week, the church has completely repurposed its furniture, turning its 19th century pews into conference tables and the coffee bar.

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Paul Tipping, from Salty Sea Dog Does Wood, and Aaron Sayers, from Aaron’s Wood’n’Stuff, transformed 28 of the pews in their workshop in the Naval Dockyard.

Paul said: ‘The navy helped us to take the pews out and we re-fashioned them in Boathouse 4.

‘Taking a pew apart without damaging it is tricky, as they were held together with Victorian iron nails, many of which were rusty.

‘The wood would splinter easily and there was also 150 years of dirt on them.’

The creation of the shared workspace is part of a £1.5m project to transform the church, which will see a new entrance and cafe on the west side of the building.

The church is funding the redevelopment through community fundraising and the £500,000 sale of its sister church, St Peter’s, in Somers Road.

St Luke’s will host ‘Pews Resuded,’ a silent auction of furniture made from the remaining pews, between 6:30pm and 9pm on February 12.