Community ‘devastated’ after fire destroys listed church

Community ‘devastated’ after fire destroys listed church

The destruction by fire of a Grade II* listed church in north-west London has “devastated” the community, a local councillor has said.

Speaking outside St Mark’s Church in Hamilton Terrace, St John’s Wood, Amanda Langford told the PA news agency the church was a “focal point” for people and had been a source of support during the pandemic.

She said: “St Mark’s church was 175 years old and contained so much history. It is a focal point for our ward.

“The church was a huge support to our community during the pandemic and has continued to be ever since. This is such a great loss.

“The reverend is totally devastated by this disaster, but the first thing she did this morning was speak to the local school to find a place for people to continue using and to worship in.

“She and her family have done so many fantastic things for our community.”

Writing on Twitter, Rev Kate Harrison said she was “broken” by the fire at the church, where she has been vicar since 2015.

St John’s Wood church fire
Firefighters dampen down at the scene of the fire at St Mark’s Church (James Manning/PA)

Some 80 firefighters tackled the blaze in Hamilton Terrace from 11.19pm on Thursday until it was under control at 2.22am on Friday, and firefighters were still working to put out embers and make the site safe.

The London Fire Brigade said it had to use three ladders, including the tallest in Europe at 64 metres, to distribute water evenly and extinguish the flames.

There have been no injuries, but LFB said that the building has been destroyed.

Louise Radley, who lives near the church, said she watched the building burn.

“The smoke and the fire was horrendous, it started off small and grew until it was out of control.

St John’s Wood church fire
The church has been destroyed (London Fire Brigade/PA)

“The damage to the church is horrendous, but we are lucky that things were not worse as the trees outside of the church could have caught fire and put lives in danger.

“The firefighters were excellent and should be commended for their bravery, I have to say a huge thank you to them.”

Yemisi Wada, who has attended services there for five years, told PA: “The church is part of a very close community of local people.

“It’s going to be very tough for us all, who need to find somewhere we belong to and feel safe to worship in – it isn’t as simple as just finding another church to attend.”

Firefighters at the scene said the cause of the fire was probably an electrical fault, but London Fire Brigade said it was still under investigation.

St Mark’s church was designed by Thomas Cundy Jr, who worked on many churches in west London including Holy Trinity Paddington, St Paul’s, Knightsbridge and St Barnabas’s.

It was previously damaged during the Second World War when it was hit by an enemy bomb, and its spire had to be rebuilt.