Joy’s Roebourne church dream in doubt after funding miss

Tom ZaunmayrPilbara News
VideoTurns out the original foundation plaque was on the back of the new one all this time

Restoration of the North West’s oldest church could stall in a matter of weeks as an ever-increasing list of repair works drains the existing piggy bank.

Backers of the Holy Trinity Church restoration failed in their attempt to secure a new heritage grant from the State Government to continue works to bring Roebourne’s church on the hill back to life.

Existing cash pools have been stretched and the major part of the refurbishment, the roof, is yet to be started.

Baessler Construction owner David Baessler said the internal structure was almost completed, but the roof and external work was on hold.

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“The way the windows were anchored in the wall made it very labour-intensive to get them out, then put them back in again,” he said.

“That is the thing with heritage buildings, guys built them so they would last 100 years.

“We have re-screwed the whole roof and fish-plated all the existing beams, but that is a temporary fix for maybe five to 10 years.

“I will not open up the roof unless I know the funds are there so I can finish the job.”

Mr Baessler said to see even one of Roebourne’s heritage buildings restored would be fabulous for locals and tourists.

Friends of the Holy Trinity Church co-ordinator Joy Brann said restoring the building would honour the pioneers who made the Pilbara what it is today.

“This building was truly pivotal in the life and faith worship of an entire community for many years when it was the only place of worship in the North West, attended by many folk of different denominations,” she said.

“Not only was the building significant for the white population, it was highly valued by the local Aboriginal people who gradually responded to the work of the faithful pastors in providing emotional support and encouragement to all.

“This building has witnessed the unfolding story of the Pilbara and many distant places and bears silent testimony to the faith that sustained generations of pioneers as they struggled against incredible hardships to open up this vast and now incredibly wealthy part of Australia.”

Wickham Community Chaplain Richard Goscombe said the church had missed out on the grant as it had been a very competitive round for grants.

“Because restoration has been under way for 18 months and is 50 per cent complete, there was an assumption made we have access to other funding, but that funding is at an end,” he said.

“Joy has said she is going to have to live a bit longer so she can see it. She is really hoping the restoration doesn’t grind to halt for too long.”

Mr Goscombe urged anyone interested in the preservation of the church to donate through the National Trust’s heritage appeal.

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