Connect - A Space to Share

08 December 2022

It has been 20 years since the last significant improvement works were undertaken at St James Road Methodist Church in Southampton when The Link was constructed, which connected the church sanctuary and church hall.  Since that time, the church has witnessed significant growth in numbers, spiritual witness, forms of worship, use of the building and links with the surrounding community. Following a number of vision days, prayer and reflection, it was considered by the local trustees to be the right time to develop the premises further so that the community aspect of the church work could be significantly enhanced with the aim of making the church the Community Hub in the locality.  Thus, The Connect project began.   


The Architects (Church Projects Ltd) were engaged in 2016, and an extensive survey was carried out by the architects meeting with individual church members to establish what was needed to enhance the buildings. The survey details were developed over a period of 3 years by a redevelopment group and brought together under the project name ‘Connect’ – A space to Share. The work was split into three phases for financial and practical continued use of the premises while work was in hand.

Building work commenced in September 2019 by our chosen contractor Greendale Construction Ltd., of Poole, Dorset. The project was split into three phases:


  1. The improvement to the assembly, toilet and washroom areas within the part of the building currently used most by the Pre School which meets on the premises daily, the demolition of an old World War II air raid shelter, and the provision of a safe fenced off play area at the top end of the car park in the space left by the demolition of the shelter.

  2. Extending the Link welcome area to provide a greatly improved open and attractive area for the church and the many community groups which meet on the premises. The provision of new toilets within this area and the provision of a coffee shop within this enlarged area.

  3. To provide a lift to the first floor for ease of access for church and community use, the provision of new toilets for the able bodied and disabled, new kitchen facilities and changes to the layouts of first floor rooms to make these areas more usable for church and community groups.

The first phase was completed by December 2019. The area, predominantly used by the Pre School every day of the week now has first rate facilities in the assembly, toilet and washroom area, and a safe, fenced off play area.

 The second phase, to extend the Link area and provide coffee shop facilities and new toilets was begun in January 2020, and apart from a shutdown by the contractors for four weeks due to the Covid lockdown in March 2020 continued right through to completion in September 2020.  Due to the Covid lockdown and the church being closed for a long period, the contractors were able to progress phase 3 at the same time, and it was also completed in September 2020.

Finishing and Mission

The project was finished in September 2020 and has been a blessing to the church in many ways. Due to the refurbishing and redesigning of meeting rooms on the first floor and the installation of a platform lift, we now have extensive room bookings from many organisations in Southampton including NHS Cardiac Services, NHS Reminds (which is the organisation which cares for autistic children and their families) and the local NHS children’s services. The NHS reminds service now has a full-time office in our building and use the premises daily. Other local community groups include U3A, NHS retirement association, local breastfeeding group, Southampton city college English classes and our local rock choir. These are alongside our own church groups which meet also regularly, daytime and evenings.


The Café which provides tea, coffee and cakes and lunchtime snacks has been an outstanding success in the local community bringing in a great many people during the week to the church premises. The space is light and airy and comfortably furnished and runs from Tuesday to Friday 9.00 am – 4.00 pm, and Saturday 10.00 am to 3.00 pm.

 All this has provided us with a unique opportunity to serve the local community and provide love, pastoral care and friendship on our church premises.

Eco friendly improvements

 All the lighting throughout the new building area is now LED low energy lighting, thus enabling us to reduce power demands and make a saving on electricity bills. During the last 3 months the rest of our extensive suite of buildings has also been fitted with LED lighting thus making further savings and making the buildings more eco-friendly. Insulation in the new parts of the building has also been fitted to the highest standard, together with under floor heating in the new café area which has proved extremely efficient in use.  

The initial project costs are outlined below:

  • All modules £1,154,660
  • Contingency @ 10% £   115,466
  • Soft Furnishings £     50,000
  • Total £1,320,126

Fundraising for the project was to be in various forms – direct giving, interest free loans, regular giving over a fixed time period, grants, fundraising events and Gift aided tax returns. We received generous grants from the Methodist Church, from our Circuit, District, Connexion and from Methodist Insurance, as well as grants from Awards for All, Viridor landfill tax credits and All Churches Trust.   

Funding for the project was obtained as follows:

  • Connexional Grant £150,000
  • Circuit Grant £   180,000
  • District Grant £     30,000
  • Other grants £   185,700
  • Legacies £   215,600       
  • Church Fundraising £   360,626
  • Chapel Aid Loan £   198,200 – balance figure

Funding for the project continues at the present time to pay off the outstanding loan to Chapel Aid over 17 years.

Click here to find out more about St James Methodist Church.