THE transformation of what was once a run-down former nightclub building, which had become a magnet for anti-social behaviour, drug taking and vandalism, into a new city centre church is nothing short of incredible. 

When the plans were first unveiled for Fountains Church back in 2019 by the Anglican Diocese of Leeds, it seemed like a huge task to undertake given the sheer scale of the work needed to bring it back into use. 

Bradford Telegraph and Argus: The remnants of drug takingThe remnants of drug taking

Masses of used needles and other drug paraphernalia had to be cleared from the building, which had also been looted of metalwork, pipework and wiring.

Nathan Hughes, of Gate & Bar Project Management, described the state of the building as “dire”. 

It had been home to clubs including Walkabout, Revolution and Tequila, but once they closed, the site fell into disrepair.

Bradford Telegraph and Argus:

“The building was full of debris, lots of needles, things like that,” he said.

“It was dark, dingy, smelly and dangerous, is probably the best way to sum it up.” 

Archdeacon of Bradford, the Ven Andy Jolley, added: “We first saw it in 2018, when it was actually in much better condition and quite a lot of deterioration happened through 2018 and the rest of 2019, when people used it as a place for shelter, but also used it for a lot of drug taking. 

“It had also been looted of metalwork, so wiring and pipework were pretty much all gone, so the building which I hoped we were getting was in a lot worse condition.”

Bradford Telegraph and Argus: Rev Linda Maslen as work got underway (November 2020)Rev Linda Maslen as work got underway (November 2020)

The church was in a position of starting from scratch, with the question of ‘how far will he budget go?’ on everyone’s minds.

Fast-forward to 2021 and the change is huge, with a stunning multi-use worship space, a ‘pay as you feel’ cafe, a co-working and creative space, plus kitchens and a food store, which is vital to the church’s work in redistributing intercepted food to those in need. 

Its name is inspired by the City Park fountains which can be seen from the church. 

Mr Hughes said he always knew the building could be a “really impressive space” and said it was “fantastic” to see it looking how it does now.

Fountains is a 'resource' church, where the aim is to explore new forms of church for a changing world, helping them to better connect with more people.

Bradford Telegraph and Argus: Its stunning new lookIts stunning new look

They are being set up in many different places, often in old buildings to repurpose them and give them a new history.

The Archdeacon said: "We're a city of different faiths, but part of putting a church here is that it doesn't look like a church building, is that it's accessible to people of any kind of background.

"So we've got a more diverse congregation, a younger congregation than we'd have in many of our other churches around the area.

"We want to reach out to people who aren't already with us."

The early ambition of the church has certainly been realised, though around £1m more is needed to develop phase three, a huge space at the top of the building. 

But, the progress so far is impressive.

The Archdeacon said: “It’s amazingly moving, having come in and seen it in that state of real dereliction, we’ve now got a building which is used, which is loved and which is serving the city, which was our vision for it.”