This year New Road Methodist Church is celebrating its relaunch as The Fishermen’s Chapel, emerging as a music, arts and community-based initiative connecting with the flourishing arts scene in the Leigh and Southend area.
Saturday 29 March was a day to celebrate this launch with an eclectic & atmospheric afternoon showcasing the immense potential of this beautiful & historical chapel.
Already a favourite venue of the Leigh Folk Festival, and with the fabulous Mid Winter Folk and Labyrinth under its belt, the launch event drew together diverse artists and performers to provide a chilled-out, enjoyable afternoon.
Project manager Juliet Kilpin says, “The chapel is one of those buildings that often goes unnoticed, yet it houses a beautiful resource for the community and harbours a rich history of faith which is precious to the identity of Old Leigh.”
Alongside the worshipping congregation that continues to meet on the first and third Sundays of the month, several groups now use the chapel regularly, and the launch event gives an opportunity to meet and celebrate with some of these people. Resident cartoonist, Dave Walker, will be exhibiting some of his work, delivering a cartoon workshop and providing an art trail. Tuesday night regulars The Show Choir will be performing and local organist and Famous Potato Paul McDowell will be kicking things off with an organ recital on the chapel’s freshly tuned pipes.
There will also be an opportunity to hear a short history of the chapel from one of the church members.
The chapel hopes to encourage local talent so is delighted to be welcoming poets Ray Morgan (author of I Am The Swell of Each Wave) and Jo Overfield; local band Vacant Touch plus newcomers Humbug, an alternative Indie Rock band who have just released a demo track.
In the pop-up cafe Sarah Williams, a mixed-media artist with an interest in the language of textiles, will be running a workshop offering people the chance to consider the stitch as a method of drawing.
All in all the day offers a lovely free afternoon and visitors of all ages are welcome to pop in or stay all afternoon (as long as there is space!).
“There are many who have already discovered the captivating beauty of the chapel”, says Juliet, “but we hope that people who have not yet discovered us will come along and check us out and maybe even join in the adventure of re-imagining how this sacred space can continue to serve the local community.”
The launch day will conclude with a stand-alone ticketed event of ‘nourishment, stories and songs’ run by Made In Leigh Conversations in aid of Oxfam. Tickets for this separate event available at The Book Inn or on eventbrite.