Restoration work on Kimberley’s cemetery chapel has finally finished and the first funeral has taken place this week.
Kimberley town councillor Trevor Rood led the project to restore the chapel to its former glory and has been working alongside local volunteer tradesmen on the project since last May.
Coun Rood said: “I think it’s great. It’s beautiful inside. It looks amazing.
“We had our first funeral this week and the family were so pleased. They actually cried when they came in, saying how perfect it was.”
The councillor – who worked on the chapel every night after work and every Saturday – called the makeover the ‘Kimberley Communtiy Project’ and said he ‘begged, stole and borrowed’ from every tradesman he knew.
“I work in the building trade so I know a lot of local tradesmen,” he said. “I rang around and begged, stole and borrowed as much as I could to keep the cost down.
“I got as much as I could – varnish, timber, all sorts. When I told people it was for the chapel they didn’t mind,” he said.
The volunteers were all local, including Trevor’s son, a joiner, who offered to lay the floor.
Coun Rood, of Flixton Road, said he always felt passionate about renovating the chapel.
“When you drive through Kimberley you see it sitting on the hill, lit up, and I just felt it was a shame it was left,” he said.
The chapel’s pews and internal doors were taken out and dipped to remove varnish that had been repeatedly coated on them, the rotten floor was removed and replaced with reclaimed floorboards, and thick black varnish on ornate wooden fretwork was painstakingly removed and re-varnished.
Paint was taken off the brickwork, plastic panels on the windows were replaced with leaded minster glass, door frames were repainted, and Victorian gothic-style cartwheel lights were put up to replace dated strip lights.
Services at the chapel ceased five years after the floor inside the building caved in.
Town councillors at the time wanted to alter the inside and turn the building into a community hub.
But a new council elected last May were determined to keep the building as it was and planned to restore it to its former glory.
The project cost a total of £11,000 – money only spent on pricey jobs that could not be done for free.
The building has now been awarded Grade-II listed status by Historic England.
The first funeral since the restoration was held for Walter Herbert Tustain on Tuesday. He was 88 and from Kimberley.
Coun Rood said: “This iconic chapel is once again ready to serve the community. With a Grade -I listing and superb panoramic views, what better venue could you choose?”
Kimberley Town Council is now welcoming bookings for the Chapel on the Hill.
For enquiries, please contact the Town Clerk on 0115 9382733 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.