Members of ASTRA Community Projects, gathered last month to celebrate their achievements. In just thirteen years the community of Bow Brickhill has undertaken and succeeded in the enormous task of saving the tower of All Saints church and also replacing a Victorian hall which was in a state of near collapse.
The initial estimate for repairing the church tower was £100,000 as its stone structure became so dangerous that it had to be fenced off. All Saints Tower Restoration Appeal (ASTRA) members worked hard to do as much of the work as they could themselves before employing professionals. Fund-raising events were held, grants applied for.
Eventually not only was the tower saved and floors strengthened, but the whole church was deep-cleaned, redecoration and electrical work was done, new gates, railing and fences provided, benches painted and vehicle access was re-laid. A unique “waterless” kitchen was installed and the path through the graveyard lowered making access to the church much safer. Thanks to the generosity of His Grace the Duke of Bedford (ASTRA’s Honorary Patron) the community was gifted land for a graveyard extension.
Demolishing the old hall on Church Road was a much greater and costlier task but nevertheless the residents sprang into action to raise the money, much of it in sizeable personal donations. A high-specification replacement timber-framed building was constructed using pre-assembled components from Lithuanian off-site manufacturing specialist Liskandas. The majority of the building work was done during lockdown so that when the pandemic abated the community could once again resume activities in its new Community Hall. Speaking at the celebration event, ASTRA Community Projects chairman Alan Preen said: “It’s a testament to the strength and commitment of our small community that so much has been achieved. We’ve saved the church and built a new hall. Everyone who walks into Bow Brickhill Community Hall gasps in amazement. They’re astounded by the quality of the building, its architecture and its design. It’s been hard work along the way but we’ve also had enormous fun raising the money too.” The Bow Brickhill Community Hall is available for hire for small group activities, workshops and meetings.