Long Street Methodist Church is a building of spectacular and noted design built in 1901 in the heart of the conservation area close to the Olde Boars Head. Designed by architect of international renown, Edgar Wood, himself born in Middleton, The church is largely in the style of traditional gothic combined with the Art Nouveau style popular at the time. It was Woods largest church project comprising of several buildings around a pretty garden courtyard. The red sandstone used in construction gives the place an attractive over-all warm, almost pinky shade of colour and the ornate stonework of the large gothic street facing window is of craftsmanship rarely seen these days.
In recent years the churches future has been uncertain due to a lack of maintenance funding and increasing vandalism due to youth nuisance. Indeed repairs to damage by true craftsmanship required of such a building costs much more today as it did during construction as true craftsmen are few and far between. A sad consequence of the natural evolution of society because of technology and expense.
History repeats itself just as in the luddite riots in the industrial revolution, technology snuffs out tradition so the few keeping on the artistic ability cannot be blamed for commanding huge fees for their skills, and they have to for the work and time involved. This is the dilemma is faced in the case of all listed buildings which is why many are eventually given up on. I feel the stringent laws involved in the protection of important buildings often add to their eventual destruction in an ironic and backfiring way. I think a happy medium should be struck where we pay for the more important aspects to be just perfect but the not so obvious could be compromised for a cheaper deal. That bit of leeway could save so many buildings that are otherwise being lost because the cost involved isnt worth it in these cash-strapped times. I know I would rather see a building survive with a few cut corners than demolished. The rules need to be relaxed to ever work in this day and age. Indeed, I have it on good authority that only a third of the cost involved goes to the craftsmen involved and the other two thirds go on bureaucrasy, red tape and administration. Where is the sense in that?
The church is soldiering on at the time of writing even after more recent mindless vandalism to its windows and metalwork and a group, The Friends of Long St Methodist Church, continue to strive to maintain this important building before it too is lost forever.
Written by the editor, August 2008