THE harbour side church of St Julian’s in Tenby is at the heart of a storm of protest in the town over plans for its future.
As the Western Telegraph reported last week, proposals are being put forward to bring the 19th century church up to 21st century standards.
Tenby’s Parochial Church Council agreed in 2012 to support the idea of St Julian’s being re-ordered as a Youth Church.
The building - constructed in 1878, of stone from Caldey Island - has no water supply, toilets or disabled access, poor lighting, an inefficient heating system and had its electrical system condemned at the end of the year.
But fears are being raised over the suggested renovations, with a Facebook group (www.facebook.com/savestjulianstenby) and online petition being set up after plans for the church’s future went on show in the town.
“Having seen the plans, I am disappointed and distraught at the fact that the entire interior - the heart, the soul - of St Julian’s is being torn out and made to look like a visitor centre,” said Sarah Williams of Neyland, who has set up the petition and Facebook group.
While aware that the church is in need of work on its heating, lighting and wiring, she said that the concern was that if St Julian’s underwent its transformation it would not survive.
The plans include making a doorway through the east wall of the church to access a kitchen and toilet extension, stripping out the interior, apart from the memorial plaques and plastering the east wall which would cover the Caldey stone.
“People will not and do not want to see this piece of Tenby history changed in any way,” Ms Williams added. “Why spend an enormous amount of money on this, when many people across Tenby, and the county, are in poverty and choosing ‘heat or eat’?”
Amongst those supporting the Save St Julian’s Campaign is Tenby-born actor Charles Dale, who commented: “I chose St Julian’s for my son’s christening because it is an iconic memory for so many of us as it is. It fits into the harbour as it is. It needs to remain as it is.”
The Rector of Tenby, Canon Andrew Davies, said at the time of the plans going on display. “St Julian’s has served our local community well for over a century, and we must make sure that ministry continues for another century.
“St Julian’s is not to be just a Youth Church, and definitely not a youth club, it is to be a church for all, fit for the 21st century, and above all, a fit offering to God.”
Canon Davies said on Monday that no-one had voiced any concerns to him. He added: “But we do have a public meeting in Church House on Thursday April 3, at 6pm, at which the latest phase of our plans will be be explained in great detail. “