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Asbestos forces city church to close
A NORTH Oxford church is hoping to open in time for Christmas after the discovery of asbestos forced its closure.
St Giles’ Church, which is attended by hundreds of worshippers a year, has closed for six weeks for the building to be decontaminated.
The asbestos was discovered in the flooring during work to prepare the church for the installation of a new heating system.
Church services and events will continue throughout the closure in the parish hall and at St Margaret’s Church.
And it is hoped the church, in Woodstock Road, will open in time for its popular carol service at Christmas.
Canon Dr Andrew Bunch, vicar at St Giles’, said: “It is not a health hazard unless it is moved, and during building work if it is there we have got to remove it.
“They will clean the boards and take all the suspected dust away.
“They have got to get through all the stuff in that area and either decontaminate it or remove it.
“When they are clearing the asbestos they will be working on the heating system in the same areas.”
The church has been able to upgrade its old heating system thanks to a £200,000 gift from an anonymous organisation. Mr Bunch said: “Throughout the main body of the church we will have underfloor heating and the existing heating system will be upgraded.
“We will get a few more radiators and a new boiler.
“It is a lot of work.”
He added: “It is an old system. It has been a very cold church for many years.”
About 100 worshippers regularly attend Sunday services.
All the Sunday 10.30am Holy Communion services will take place in the parish hall during the closure.
Other services and events will be held in the parish hall or at St Margaret’s Church, in St Margaret’s Road, North Oxford.
Mr Bunch said: “We are planning to open for Christmas with some of the new pipework in place.
After Christmas it will be closed or partially closed while we complete the job.”
It is hoped the church will open in time for its popular carol service due to take place on Sunday, December 22, at 6.30pm.
For updates, visit st-giles-church.org