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Community pulls together to transform historic chapel into thriving social hub

A community group in Scarborough is planning to restore a historic chapel in the hope it can become a thriving social hub for local residents.

Dean Road Chapel, in the heart of Dean Road cemetery, was built in the 19th century and has been used for funeral services up until 1964.

Paul Espin, Chairman of Dean Road Chapel Limited

Paul Espin, Chairman of Dean Road Chapel Limited

Over the years its aspect has progressively deteriorated, resulting in the building becoming unsafe.

However, a group of people who believe in the potential the chapel can have in the community have decided to take it upon themselves to restore it.

Paul Espin, chairman of Dean Road Chapel Limited, said: “Dean Road cemetery has become quite a vibrant place. I know it sounds a bit odd when you’re talking about a cemetery but many people use it for lots of different things, and because of the importance of the cemetery in terms of the community that uses it and the things that people expect from it, it was felt that the chapel should be restored and used as a focal point.”

The charity has applied to receive £880,000 worth of funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund.

The money will be used for essential refurbishment works as well as extensive research into the history of the graveyard.

Mr Espin added: “The cemetery has burials that are very important for Scarborough. There are memorials and graves for people who fought in the First and Second World Wars, the civilians who died in the bombardment of 1914 and there is a wealth of family history here which is one of the things we want to research and archive.

“There are many strands to what we’re doing, it isn’t just about restoring a building. The important part is the use afterwards and the way the community uses it.”

Once restored, the chapel will become a community centre and meeting place for people who want to learn more on the history of the cemetery.

The Heritage Lottery Fund will reveal whether or not funding will be granted in December.