Owner of historic Sheffield chapel wants your ideas for building's future

The owner of a historic Sheffield chapel and graveyard, where victims of the city’s Great Flood are buried, wants the community to put forward ideas for the building’s future.

By The Star Newsroom
Friday, 07 June, 2019, 11:53

Loxley United Reformed Church, better known as Loxley Chapel, dates from 1787 and its grounds are home to victims of the Great Flood of 1864, which killed at least 240 people, plus a number of war graves.

Its owner Mohammed Jameel Ali last month revealed plans to restore the dilapidated Grade II*-listed building, which was gutted by fire in 2016, and convert it to a hostel and cafe, with rooms for use by the community.

Loxley Chapel, which dates from 1787, was gutted by fire in 2016

He also wants to build a respite centre for disabled children within the grounds, which would be named in memory of his late niece.

Initial plans have already been drawn up but the architect behind the scheme says Mr Ali wants members of the community to give their input.

Steve Burlaga, of AXIS Architecture, said: “We’re trying to get some community use within the chapel and we want to consult the community about what form that should take.

Councillor Penny Baker

“At the moment we’re planning to have community rooms on the first floor, and there’s been some talk about creating a space for private contemplation where people can go and reflect when visiting loved ones buried there.

“We’re hoping to get lots of ideas put forward so we can pull those ideas together to come up with a more detailed plan which is good for the community.”

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Mr Ali has given the go-ahead for a friends group for the chapel and graveyard to be formed, and he hopes to work with members to preserve the site for future generations and maintain the grounds, which in recent years have become heavily overgrown.

Stannington ward councillor Penny Baker met recently with Mr Ali, Mr Burlaga, her fellow ward councillors and heritage campaigners from the area to discuss the site’s future.

She told how they are planning to formally launch the group this August with an event at the property, which sits off Loxley Road in the picturesque Loxley Valley.

Coun Baker was cautiously optimistic following the meeting that a brighter future lies in store for the long-beleaguered landmark, where the Titanic’s chief officer, Henry Tingle Wilde, was baptised.

“This could be a real community asset if we can get the cemetery cleaned up and the chapel back in use,” she said.

“It’s a very positive step that we’ve got permission to launch a friends group, and we’d encourage as many people as possible to get involved and help look after the site.”

Coun Baker added that the hostel, which early plans suggest would have just over 20 beds, could become a mecca for cyclists exploring the area’s natural beauty.

Initial plans showing how the chapel could look, which were shared at the meeting but have yet to be made public, include a metal roof which Coun Baker said had the backing of Historic England.

She also told how, while the walls and windows of the listed building would be restored as they were, according to those early proposals, some minor industrial features had been added as an homage to the area’s history.

Anyone interested in joining the new friends group is asked to email penny.baker@sheffield.gov.uk.