Laurie Porter’s mother in law Flo is a former parishioner of St James Anglican Church and she’s got just one piece of advice for her daughter in law: don’t let them demolish it.
Laurie Porter and Joan Cootes are at the forefront of the battle to save the historic little church located on the corner of Kent Street and Redfern Road, Minto.
They are both Minto residents and former parishioners at St James.
They have organised petitions signed by hundreds of concerned residents, made themselves available for several media interviews and made submissions and spoke at council meetings against the application by the parish to demolish the 120 year old building.
“My mother in law is 91 and is now in a nursing home so she can’t get to church these days,’’ says Mrs Porter, who is also an amateur historian.
“When I drop in to see her, Flo says to me, ‘whatever you do don’t let them demolish that church’.
“And I promise her that I will do my best.’’
Both Ms Cootes and Mrs Porter will make themselves available at a Land and Environment Court conciliation conference scheduled to be held on the site of the church on Wednesday, October 25.
The conference is part of the process of the appeal lodged against the council decision in April of this year to reject the parish’s application for demolition.
Marsdens Law Group will be the legal representatives for Campbelltown City Council.
It will be up to the Court Commissioner on duty on the day of the conference whether Ms Cootes and Mrs Porter are actually called upon to speak.
“If my friend Laurie Porter and I are asked to speak at the Land and Environment Court hearing, then we are both prepared to do so,’’ Ms Cootes said.
♦ Built 120 years ago in 1897, St James Anglican Church was originally erected on the corner of Minto Road and Cumberland Road, a few hundred metres way from the current location.
It was dismantled and re-erected on its present site 99 years ago in 1918.
The then Anglican Archbishop of Sydney, Reverend John Charles Wright, made the long trek to Minto for the laying of a second foundation stone.
Both foundation stones are set into the front wall of St James, which the parish says has not been used for church services since 1985.
A church spokesman told council earlier this year it would cost around $160,000 to repair the church building, not $92,000 as claimed by those opposed to demolition.
The lower figure was an estimate, the spokesman said, while the higher number was an actual quote obtained by the parish.
A large majority of councillors voted to deny the application for demolition, despite the possibility of an appeal to the Land and Environment Court.
The applicant for demolition was St James Anglican Church Parish, while Anglican Church Property Trust Diocese of Sydney was named as the owner of the property.
♦ Despite its longevity, St James is not heritage listed, which would have given it some protection against demolition.
“There are so many wonderful uses this beautiful building could be put to,’’ says Joan Cootes.
“Maybe Campbelltown Council can buy it and make the necessary repairs.’’
Mrs Porter says that everyone she’s spoken to in Minto wants the church retained.
“Nobody in the community wants it demolished.’’
Ms Cootes says that next year is the 100th anniversary of St James on the current site.
“It is a local landmark and one of only a couple of historic buildings still left in the Minto area,’’ she says.
“It is also a popular backdrop for couples to have their wedding photos taken.
It’s a beautiful old church and should be preserved, maintained, used and loved.’’