The site of a once-popular student bar on Oxford Road is set to be transformed into Manchester’s Mormon hub.
Plans for a five-storey chapel, which will be occupied by followers of the Church of Jesus Christ of the Latter Day Saints, have been approved and work has begun on the building. The church is scheduled to open in 2014.
Located next door to the Manchester Aquatics Centre, the site – which used to be the home of student haunt Scubar – has been chosen by the Mormon church specifically because of its close proximity to the city’s two biggest universities.
The chapel will be used by 18-30 year olds for sports and social activities. Its notable features will include a rooftop basketball court, but in accordance with Mormon teachings the church will be strictly alcohol-free.
James Holt, the church’s north-west spokesman, told the Manchester Evening News that the chapel will serve as a dry haven for Mormon students who are inevitably surrounded by a drinking culture.
“We recognise the fact that for many people, the university experience is about drinking. Because Mormons don’t drink, being at university can sometimes be an isolating experience,” he explained.
Holt continued: “As well as being a place of worship, this will be a place where people can play sport and socialise. We hope Mormon parents might think about sending their children to university here because a centre like this exists.”
The news comes in the week that Mitt Romney, America’s first Mormon presidential candidate, was defeated by Barack Obama in the race for the White House.
Romney, 65, is a lifelong follower of the religion. His great-great grandfather, Miles, was a Preston joiner, and one of the north-west’s original Mormons. There are around 7,000 Mormons in Greater Manchester today.