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Delce Road, at junction with Star Hill, Rochester, reopens after part of church collapsed

By Lynn Cox

A busy street has now reopened, seven months after part of a church collapsed into the road.

Stonework fell from the Elim Pentecostal Church in Rochester on Saturday, February 4, and Delce Road was closed at its junction with Star Hill.

The area was fenced off for safety and the road was closed to traffic.

Gill Irwin at Elim Pentecostal Church, Rochester
Gill Irwin at Elim Pentecostal Church, Rochester

Scaffolding was later put up outside the 161-year-old building so contractors could start work to remove some of the rubble and replace the ragstones.

The restoration work did not start until Monday, May 8, and was expected to take about three months – but took much longer.

But last Friday the work was completed and the scaffolding finally came down.

Gill Erwin, a layperson who runs the church with her son, Jamie Erwin, thanked Pierra, experts in building restoration, conservation and stone masonry, who carried out the work and said they had done a wonderful job.

Mr Erwin added: “We are really pleased with the work. It looks lovely and much more inviting than it did before.

“It probably looks exactly like it did when it was first opened.”

The building was built in 1856 as a congregational church, but in 1882 it became the Star Hill United Methodist Chapel until 1927, when it was closed for a year.

Gill Irwin with her son, Jamie Irwin and David Brookes
Gill Irwin with her son, Jamie Irwin and David Brookes

In that year, George Jefferys, a Welsh minister who founded the Elim Pentecostal Church movement, went to Rochester.

While there, he decided to hold services at the Corn Exchange.

This led him to reopen the church in Delce Road in March 1928 as the first Elim Pentecostal in the area.

The road outside the church has now fully reopened.

A traffic diversion had been in place along The Cut on to City Way and back down Star Hill and buses, which used to stop outside the building, have been diverted along Onslow Road since the incident.

Medway Council has confirmed the diversion has now been lifted.

The church will be holding a special rededication service at 11am on Sunday, October 8.

Mr Erwin said: “Everyone is welcome.”

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