WORK to restore a Newport church ravaged by fire is progressing well, with new pictures giving a glimpse into the ongoing restoration work.

Stow Hill’s Bethel Community Church was gutted by fire on June 15, 2018 - and there were fears that the damage could see the end of the historic building, which has stood in the city for over 140 years.

But, more than three years on, major plans to restore the city centre church are continuing, with hope that the project will be complete early next year.

New photos from the site, taken by project managers Henstaff Construction, show how work is progressing inside the church – and the scale of the project.

In recent months, a steel frame has been installed inside the building to reinforce it, while work is ongoing to install the glulam beams in the roof, before the slate roof can be fitted.

  • We want to hear why you love Newport. Click here to tell us a bit about yourself and what you like the most about our city, and we’ll share it with our readers.

Towards the end of October, a major milestone is expected to be completed – with the removal of the giant yellow crane which has dominated Newport’s skyline for the last 10 months.

This comes as the structural side of the project is set to be completed.

Three years ago, the neighbouring Zanzibar nightclub was set on fire, and it was this blaze which spread to the church itself, which caused the damage.

Now, an agreement has been made between the church and the new owners of the then-derelict club regarding the adjoining wall, and work is under way to restore this section of the site.

South Wales Argus: The church ablaze in 2018The church ablaze in 2018

Read more local news here:

Once work is completed, the site will be home to a four-storey space packed full of modern facilities, while retaining the same exterior and honouring the history of the church that was built in 1883.

Work is scheduled to be completed next February, and the new building will feature a youth hall, recording studio, recreational facilities, and a lift operating within the spire tower.

Worship will be conducted in a 400-seater auditorium, with a gallery area, altar stage, and baptismal pool.

What have the contractors said?

In their latest update, a spokesman for contractors Henstaff Construction said: “Progress at the church has progressed over the summer since the last visit by the Argus.

“The steelwork frame has now been shoehorned into the building and new floors poured to the basement, mezzanine, and first floors including the recess for the baptism pool.

“The Glulam beams that will hold up the main roof are in the process of being delivered and installed over the next fortnight and then the slate roof will commence as we move towards Christmas.

“The tower crane that has been a beacon on the Newport skyline for the last 10 months, will be removed once the structure is complete, towards the end of October.

“Party wall agreement with the new owners of the Zanzibar nightclub to the north of site are now complete and works on rebuilding the gable and apex of the north wall are now underway.

“Offsite, the leaded windows are being constructed and painted for reinstallation to the repaired bathstone windows.

“Now that Covid requirements are slowly being removed, site visits are in the process of being arranged with the Exemplar2021 team from Constructing Excellence in Wales and also the local primary school, St Woolos.”

What did the church pastor say?

Earlier this summer, Pastor Andrew Cleverly of Bethel Community Church told the Argus: “There's a bit of light at the end of the tunnel.

"With the fire and Covid, there's not been a lot to look forward to.

“But now, this beautiful building is coming into the city, and will be a boost for Newport, too.

“It's going to be positive for the community.

“We're going to have community projects running, and for us as a church community, to be able to come into our home again will be fantastic."