An exciting new partnership has been formed between Bristol Spaceworks and St Bonaventure’s Church in Bristol, to run a new Business Centre in the heart of Bishopston.

The site of the Business Centre was formerly a social club built in 1963 and was a well frequented venue with some very popular bands playing there. The club fell into disrepair in 2015 and was closed, creating a burden for St Bon’s who own the building.

Thanks to a forward thinking new Parish Priest, Fr. Tom Smith, and a highly motivated and dedicated group of parishioners, they formulated a new plan that the building would be an asset to the Bishopston community once again and provide a much-needed income for the church.

St Bon’s Church and Friary were built in 1900 and are large, impressive buildings with maintenance budgets to match. The closed social club was a drain on precious resources, so Fr. Tom appealed to the parishioners and was able to crowd fund the money needed to convert it into a modern business centre.

One of the parishioners, Tony Nelson, runs his own interior design company and project manages large office moves. Tony volunteered significant amounts of time and energy into overseeing the amazing transformation, even laying the carpet tiles himself to reduce costs.

Fr. Tom approached Bristol Spaceworks through a mutual contact to manage the business centre and let the fully furnished office spaces.

Bristol Spaceworks is a not for profit company established in 1985, which owns and manages 4 Business Centres in Bristol. They rent office space, warehouses and art studios on flexible agreements with the aim of stimulating employment in Easton, St Philips and Barton Hill where their properties are based. In recent years the company has operated at occupancy levels close to 100% and as well as reinvesting any profits into the upkeep of the buildings they have donated to several local charitable causes, including Empire Fighting Chance.

Fr. Tom Smith said ‘this is an exciting project, it is the result of the hard work of many people and the generosity and support of many of our parishioners. The offices are of a high quality and I hope it will become the go to business space for Bishopston.’

Matt Johnstone, Bristol Spaceworks’ Chief Executive said “We have always operated in the heart of diverse communities. The opportunity to work with Fr. Tom and his team at St Bon’s was an exciting new challenge. It fits well with our ethos of working in the community, to provide professionally run workspaces which help people develop and grow their business. Many of the people who work in our existing workspaces live close by and these entrepreneurs directly boost the local economy by employing extra people and buying from local suppliers. Fr. Tom, Tony and the rest of parishioners have created a really modern business centre with potential to expand it in the future.”

Pictures: Here we see Fr Tom cutting the ribbon with Councillor Tom Brook who represents Bishopston and Ashley Down. Fr Tom is on the phone with Councillor Tom Brook and Matt Johnstone, Bristol Spaceworks’ Chief Executive standing behind.