The hunt is on for photos of the work to redevelop of one of Shaftesbury’s landmark buildings. Trustees of the Trinity Centre are keen to uncover images of the former church being converted, ahead of a milestone anniversary next year.
Shaftesbury’s Trinity Centre celebrates its 40th birthday in 2020. A specially commissioned piece of artwork and a celebratory event is planned. Organisers want to display pictures to illustrate the project’s timeline and, in particular, they are keen to source snaps of the building work at the start of the 1980s.
Trinity Centre Trustee Trudie Stanley has only found a few photos so far. “We only have about two or three,” she said. That might seem surprising, since the work was undertaken relatively recently. At the time, film photography was still a relatively expensive hobby. Pictures became far more plentiful from the 1990s, following the digital camera revolution.
Although Shaftesbury’s Gold Hill Museum maintains an impressive collection of old photographs and postcards, volunteer archivist Ray Simpson can’t add many images to Trudie’s planned display. “We’ve probably only got three pictures,” said Ray, as he pulled open a draw to reveal rows of indexed sepia and black and white postcards and photos.
“There is an interior picture,” Ray said, as he handed me a picture depicting Trinity’s pews, font and altar taken many years before the remodelling. “It’s 1910,” he read from the notes. Too early. The Museum has no pictures of the building work in progress and Ray explained that there has been relatively little research undertaken into the town’s churches.
He did locate a copy of the Shaftesbury Parish magazine ‘Home Works’ from May 1886. The thick, A5 sized periodical featured a pen and ink drawing of the church exterior. This journal was published at a time when Trinity was the jewel in Shaftesbury C of E’s crown.
There were once twelve churches in town. St Peter’s Church had virtually been abandoned by 1878, when it was pronounced unsafe. Holy Trinity was rebuilt in 1842 and, with its 100ft tower, became the town’s grandest place of worship. St Peter’s Church was later repaired and renovated. The falling church congregation led to Holy Trinity being declared redundant in 1974. The building was offered to the Scout Group and a charitable trust was formed to manage the conversion of the deconsecrated place of worship into today’s multi-use centre.
Trinity opened in 1982 and the interior was significantly altered at this time. The ceiling height of the church nave was so high, builders were able to split the building into two levels. The new ground floor allowed the creation of today’s day-care centre space.
Trudie wants pictures of this internal work underway. The view from Bimport has hardly altered. “Externally, it is a listed building and there has been no change outside. The day centre didn’t exist before, so it would be nice to see how that was created,” she said.
Trudie wants to borrow photos taken from the late 1970s onwards. “From just before the Trust took over, showing it as a church and maybe from when the church was deconsecrated through to becoming a Trust. The last 50 years would be great,” said Trudie.
If you have images in your family album of the last marriage conducted in Trinity Church, Trudie would be grateful if you got in touch. “Somebody told me recently about the last wedding. If there were photos from that, it would be really nice to include them in a montage of photographs.”
Trudie would also like to speak with people who were closely involved with the redevelopment project. “The leaders of the Scouts were involved in that building and what I would really like is some interviews with them about what it was like at the time. That would be great to put on our website for some verbal history of that time.”
If you can help, you’re being asked to contact Trudie before the Trinity Centre anniversary events on 8th July next year. “We are having an afternoon tea at the day centre and I have been in touch with the Shaftesbury (Gold Hill) Museum to see if we can put on a display there. Maybe we can get somebody from the Historical Society to put in a lecture or something like that. There are things in the mix at the moment. Nothing is finalised,” said Trudie.
You can contact the Trinity Trust on ShaftesburyTrinityCentreTrust.com.