AN ICONIC railway works building in Swindon will be given a new lease of life... as a church.

The former Pattern Store is being converted as part of a major initiative by the Diocese of Bristol to support the regeneration of the area. 

It also aims to connect people across Swindon who are not part of a church.

Bishop of Swindon Lee Rayfield has been a key leader in planning the conversion of the current three-storey, empty former Italian 
restaurant Bottelino’s.

Bishop Lee said: “From the very beginning there has been a thing in my heart saying to do this but it seemed like a lot was against us. 

“This building seemed like a great place to do it.”

He added: “It is a blessing on the town of Swindon. 
“I think about the opportunities – when I look at Swindon there is inequality but we could be leaders in Swindon.
“We are going to put people first.

“It is a venture of considerable faith and reflects what Jesus Christ has laid on many of our hearts for this very special town.”

The basement will be where the new congregation will worship with the first floor housing the offices for clergymen.

The team at Pattern Church will be led by the Rev Joel Sales, who is relocating from London and is planned to open around Christmas.
Joel, 32, who is married and has two young sons said: “I am very excited and deeply privileged to be the new reverend here.

“We will have three core values – love Jesus, build family and serve Swindon.”

He added: “I am excited to get stuck into Swindon life and putting my roots down here.
“I have a real passion for setting up new churches - God can do something special here.”

A new Bishop of Bristol the Rev Vivienne Faull was announced during the unveiling of the building yesterday.

She will be consecrated at a service at St Paul’s Cathedral on July 3 and installed in her new role at Bristol Cathedral in the autumn.

Bishop Vivienne said: “This is where my family comes from, and so coming here feels like I’m returning home.

“It was 24 years ago that Bristol was the first diocese to ordain women as priests, and I want the diocese to continue to show that pioneering 

“I look forward to leading a church that shows the love of Christ to everyone, whoever they are.”

She added: “It’s exciting to see the potential – I look forward very much to seeing the new church flourish.”

The Pattern Store is a Grade II-listed building constructed in 1897 for the Great Western Railway in Swindon at a cost of £4,000.

The building held the drawings and papers for the designs associated with the railway and remained in use until the railway works closed in 
The basement was used as a mess room during World War I, as a canteen between 1939 to 1960 and more recently the building has been a bar and restaurant.