News and Articles

7 March 2017

Refresh: a first impression

Ben Thomas photo Ben Thomas Director of Operations
Refresh Homepage

How long do you think it would take you to make an initial judgment about someone?

30 seconds? 10 seconds? Some estimates suggest that first impressions are made in the first 5 seconds of meeting someone.

We’ve been asking this question: “What first impression does the Above Bar Church building make on the high street of Southampton?” It’s sad to say that many of the people I meet – whether my friends, family or contractors working in the building — don’t even know that we’re here.

The second phase of Refresh gives us an opportunity to change this and not just to use the building to create a fantastic first impression on the high street but a lasting impression, an impression that says, “We’re here, we’re alive!” An impression that welcomes people in and helps us to be more inviting.

It’s been remarkable to see God’s provision in this phase of Refresh, and we want to thank everyone who has pledged or given financially, the current total, including pledges, is now just over £400,000, which equates to 93% of the target. this is amazing!

I’m delighted to be able to let you know that the designs for the glass atrium, lighting, lift, signage and windows have now all been finalized. Planning has been approved and we’re moving forward.


The plans are in and you’ll be able to see the scale model in the building soon. There will be a new glass atrium above the front door. The interior wall of the atrium will be white and have the words “Above Bar Church” running vertically down, with LED strip lights to illuminate the wall and atrium.


We will have new front doors which will be further forward than the current ones in order to be flush with the exterior walls, they will be automatic. In the front porch there will be a new TV screen which will give us a great opportunity to communicate on the high street at eye level. The TV will swing out from the wall in order to be visible to all passing by, or pushed back in order to maximize the amount of light into the entrance.

Refresh 2 - lighting front stairs

Front Lift

The Front Lift will be refurbished with new controls and door mechanism, the doors and interior will be re-skinned in a patterned stainless steel. We will also bring them up to current Health and Safety standards, with a new mirror and hand rail. These changes will make the lift safer, more reliable, more appealing as well as giving it a fresh look.


The stairwell will be decorated and the left main wall at ground floor level will become a feature wall, similar to the one in the lounge. The brick balustrades will be replaced with glass, making the whole area lighter and more attractive. New signs, like those in the lounge, will be fitted at each level.

All the windows facing Above Bar Street and Ogle Road will be replaced and fitted with brises soleils on the top floor, to prevent glare and reduce the overall temperature of the building in the summer.

Refresh 2 - front

Planned Timescale

Tenders have either been sent out or will be in the next few days, we plan to appoint the contractors in April or May and the works will hopefully commence soon after.

Completion is planned for September 2017. There will be some disruption throughout the period of the works, so please bear with us and we’ll keep you updated once the main contractor is confirmed and we have firm dates.

Next Phases of Refresh

We have also been working on plans for the subsequent phases of refresh, and have a plan to complete Refresh by the end of 2020. More details of this will follow towards the end of the current phase.



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