Jamia Mosque Bristol
Bristol’s first mosque, the Bristol Jamia Mosque in Green Street Totterdown, Bristol on the site of St. Katherine’s church. (Photo: James Davies, English Heritage, 2007)
St. Katherine’s church in Totterdown had been built in 1889 as a mission room of the Holy Nativity Church, Knowle and had been closed since 1961 except for weekly services for elderly people in Totterdown which continued until 1964.
A Bristol Muslim Association (whose president was Mr. J. Moghadass of St. George, Bristol) had been established as early as 1968. Members first borrowed the mission hall for occasional functions and that same year purchased the hall from the parish council for £2,500 to use as a mosque.
In 1978 they applied for planning permission to alter it and the external changes they proposed included the addition of a reinforced concrete flat roof with a central dome and ‘a non-functional minaret’. The architect employed was Glyn Leaman of Clifton, Bristol.
According to the city records four representations were received from neighbouring residents in the Spring of 1978 relating to these proposals. One had no objection to the plans, three were letters of objection. (The original letters are not on file, but were summarised in officers’ reports.) Points of objection:
- Disturbance, noise and general nuisance
- The minaret could become a ‘wailing tower’
- The proposals would result in the ‘desecration of a beautiful church, with a lowering of standards in the community’.
- Intensification of existing parking problems
- The proposed extension would affect light and air to neighbouring properties.
The planning committee received an additional Delegated Report to the revised application on 3.10.1979. Three objections were received, including the general point that ‘the area is unsuitable for a mosque’, and repeated points about noise nuisance from the minaret.
The application was approved with the condition that the minaret should be “a decorative feature only and shall not be used in any way as a ‘wailing tower’ for the purpose of calling the faithful to prayer”. Bristol City Council( Source: City of Bristol, Department of Planning, Planning envelope 62806 Street file: G66 (Green Street) cited in Andy Foyle, Unpublished report to Bristol EPE, 2006).