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Could these sleeping pods be a Godsend as redundant church looks for new uses?

PUBLISHED: 10:18 22 December 2017 | UPDATED: 10:18 22 December 2017

An artist's impression of what the sleeping pods could look like suspended from the ceiling. Photo: Great Yarmouth Preservation Trust

An artist's impression of what the sleeping pods could look like suspended from the ceiling. Photo: Great Yarmouth Preservation Trust

Great Yarmouth PreservationTrust

Sleeping pods suspended from a seaside church’s roof could be the quirky answer to its restoration prayers.

An exhibition of of old jumble is set to be suspended from the ceiling at St John's Church, Yarmouth. The former fisherman's church  has been bought by a preservation trust for £1.
PHOTO: Nick Butcher An exhibition of of old jumble is set to be suspended from the ceiling at St John's Church, Yarmouth. The former fisherman's church has been bought by a preservation trust for £1. PHOTO: Nick Butcher

Champing - or church camping - is growing in popularity, helping 
to pay for repairs to redundant places of worship across the country.

Whereas elsewhere camp-beds and candles are set up in aisles at St John’s Church in Great Yarmouth conservationists are looking at using a pulley system 
so pods can be hoisted aloft during the day.

Darren Barker, project director for the Great Yarmouth Preservation Trust which owns the building, said he got the idea from a similar venture he saw, but hanging from trees.

He said: “There is a craze for churches opening themselves up for camping but it is very basic, just bring a sleeping bag.

“With St Johns because of its location on the seafront in one of the most popular seaside towns in the UK, here it could be more elaborate with purpose-made 
pods, St Johns will also be kitted out with toilets, shower and 
a kitchen,

“I have seen tents which are suspended from trees but the proposal for St Johns could be more permanent. This use also minimally impacts on the historic building and it supports emerging cultural tourism such as the South East Tower.”

St Johns is known as the Fishermen’s Church because 
it was built to serve the fishermen and beach men and their families in 1857.

The Grade II-listed building became vacant ten years ago and has been neglected since. Eventually Great Yarmouth Preservation Trust took ownership in 2016 after years of negotiations paying just £1.

Following a feasibility study the trust is planning a £800,000 restoration plan for the building using trainees and volunteers under the guidance of experts.

The building will be re-used as a multi purpose venue, for workshops, dance, exhibitions, rehearsals, and events.

It could also be used for a quirky alternative camping experience which will support the emerging cultural tourist agenda.

Suspended pods will provide “a fun and innovative approach” to the use of space and the historic building.

“Its location makes it ideal for this type of holiday accommodation use,” Mr Barker added.

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