Repair cafe Hub - in a disused church?

In our village we have a Chapel that has been empty for 9 years. We have contacted the United Reform Church (Owners) to see if we can make use of it as a Repair Café Hub i.e. to repair larger equipment. Their replies over the past two years have always been excuses such as “they are going to sell it” No one to our knowledge from the URC has visited the site for at least 5 years- if ever. Has anyone any ideas how we can proceed

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The challenge might well be that any use will require URC to spend money to repair, heating, electric, insurance, etc. … best chance might be to ask your local council (parish/town/county, in that order), see if they might fund its use? A Congregational Church near where I live is hopefully being brought into use as a community asset, might be a model you can use, see


Great share @Ian_Barnard! A Community Asset means that if it goes up for sale, the community has the right to match any other offer and buy it? I think that’s how some pubs have has also been saved around the UK.

If you need some help in working with your local authority, this group has this has its mission, and could be useful

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Thanks Ian
Believe it or not the local Parish council in the past via a local Charity have spent £25,000 on this chapel . At the moment i cannot get any movement by the Parish Council - the best, I think I can do is go to the top i.e. Oxfordshire County Council

Yeah I imagine these places are black holes cash-wise, which may be at least partly why URC is minimising its costs. Sounds like it will take real determination/commitment from your community to get it into productive use. Where I grew up in Yorkshire there were many mainly Methodist chapels scattered along the valley sides - outside the villages these have almost all been turned into homes (each replete with a homely graveyard). For example the chapel I was baptised in, Mount Pleasant (fantastic name!), with my birth home Upper Wat Ing just to the east - the OSM view flattens the hillside, the chapel is perched there with a fantastic view over the Calder Valley. And over the graveyard. Heaven knows how the economics of these chapels stacked up given there weren’t a lot of houses around them but they must have been well-attended/funded for ~100 years, I guess the rot set in probably after WW2.

Good luck!

You haven’t said where it is!

The BS3 Repair Cafe is held the last Saturday of the month excluding August and December. The venue used is also a church hall under the United Reform Church, it is shared with other voluntary community organising groups such as youth club, Bedminster Winter Lantern Parade, toy library and a Zumba class.
We have our own insurance, we pay for the venue at an hourly rate when we are open, which comes from takings from our homemade cakes cafe and donations from the general public which are rather generous to keep the event going covering running costs.

Hope that helps.

Yours faithfully,

Colin Richard Noakes

Hi Colin

Thanks you for your email. It is funny -
I gather there are Repair Cafes in United Reform Cafes in Southampton and Portsmouth. The owners
of our Chapel according to the Title Deeds (I have a copy) is in fact in Southampton. We have sent a number of letters to them since
Feb’ 2019 and we get fobbed

With excuses
like “we will discuss the matter ” or “we will be selling it
– we will let you know when” Nothing happens! It is a pity as
in the past the local Parish Council, I understand, has spent £25,000 on the
chapel renovating it.

We have
other Repair Cafes in Wantage and another starting in Faringdon that are both
about 5 miles away that would join us in making a “Hub” workshop
where we could repair larger items.

We meet
at present in our local Coffee Shop once a month rent free and do a lot of our
repairs in our home workshops. Our funds come from donations that even after
paying for Insurance, special tools etc still has a healthy Bank Balance ( we
are all volunteers and work for free)

Keep in


Derek Sayers FIScT, FInstLM, FRMS

2 Hunters Field

Stanford in the Vale


Oxon SN7 8LR

Tele: 01367 710 283