Support our Nation today - please donate here
News

Couple restoring former Menai Bridge church in bid to reassure locals

11 Jan 2024 4 minute read
English Presbyterian Church, Menai Bridge. Images: Dale Spridgeon

Dale Spridgeon Local Democracy Reporter

A couple who have bought a vast Gothic-style Menai Bridge church building to convert into a home and a holiday let are hoping to reassure locals over its renovation and show that they’re not ‘American millionaires’.

Craig Allison and Huw Williams, both 32, purchased the former English Presbyterian Church for £160,000 back in October 2022.

They say they are keen to quash local rumours that they are “American millionaires” and hope to calm complaints over temporary disruption during restoration work.

Welsh speaking and locally employed

Huw, who has taken on full-time project management of the work on the Grade-II listed building on Telford Road, is a Welsh speaker from Machynlleth, and has family connections on Anglesey.

His husband Craig, who hails originally from Bexley Heath, is in the RAF and currently serving in Texas, but will shortly be based at RAF Valley on Anglesey.

The pair were looking for a home in the area and saw the potential in the distinctive spired building with its garden and proximity to the Menai Strait.

The couple saw an opportunity to develop the 19th century church into a three bedroom home and the chance to incorporate a three bedroom holiday let.

Originally known as the “Menai Bridge Methodist Chapel” the church was originally constructed and funded through the generosity of philanthropist Richard Davies, a former MP for Anglesey from 1868-86, and his family.

According to the History Points website: “He (Richard) and brother Robert funded construction of the imposing English-language Presbyterian chapel in Menai Bridge (near the Victoria Hotel).

“It was completed just in time for the wedding there of his daughter Edith to Russell James Colman, of the Colman’s Mustard family, in 1888.”

Conservation

Before its sale, the former owners of the church said a preference would be given to offers which would see conservation of the fabric of the building.

The building includes a number of impressive features including a huge stained glass chancel window depicting scenes from the bible.

Others include a large ornate pipe organ, a smaller organ, limestone pulpit, font, decorative ceramic tiled floor, pitched pine pews, a barrelled ceiling as well a number of brass plaques and wall mounted memorials.

The couple intend to incorporate the features into the design of their quirky home.

Although pews will have to be removed – the vast church seated around 300 people – they intend to make use of the wood in projects, including designing a kitchen island, beds and other fittings.

Misunderstandings

Huw said: “There has been some misunderstanding locally that we are some sort of millionaires who have come from America.

“Actually Craig is in the RAF in Texas at the moment, but soon to be at RAF Valley, and I am a Welsh speaking Welshman.

“We are just normal, ordinary people, and we just really want to become part of the local community and get involved.

“We want to reassure people we are not going to destroy the building.

“A lot of locals have memories of coming to the church. It played a big part in their lives and we are very sensitive to that.

“We want people to know that we will retain the features, not rip them out and we really want to protect the building.

“We have had some complaints over causing disruption because parking bays outside the church were unavailable, but this is only temporary and should be cleared this week.

“We are doing all we can to reduce disruption.

“We are having work on the entrance done first to create off-street parking so our workmen, as we carry out work over the next two years, will not cause problems, and they will park out of the way.

“We’ve also had to cut back some overgrown bushes and removed a holly tree, but we have an approved planting scheme in the plans, to replace two trees and create 40m of hedging.

“We are happy to talk to anyone about what we are doing, if anyone wants to share any memories or stories of the church, we’d love to hear them, and we want people to know it is in safe hands.”


Support our Nation today

For the price of a cup of coffee a month you can help us create an independent, not-for-profit, national news service for the people of Wales, by the people of Wales.

Subscribe
Notify of
guest
0 Comments
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments

Our Supporters

All information provided to Nation.Cymru will be handled sensitively and within the boundaries of the Data Protection Act 2018.