Islamic Association buys building to open Harrogate's first mosque after decade-long search

A decade-long search to find the home of Harrogate's first mosque has come to an end after a charity completed the purchase of a historic building in the town.

By Jacob Webster
Monday, 4th April 2022, 1:19 pm
The former Home Guard Club on Belford Road.
The former Home Guard Club on Belford Road.

Harrogate Islamic Association has bought the former Home Guard club on Belford Road. where it hopes to open the place of worship later this year.

It follows more than ten years of fundraising and failed bids to buy other buildings, but there were cause for celebrations on Friday when the charity completed the purchase for £500,000.

Harrogate Islamic Association member Zahed Amanullah said around 150 people gathered on the day to pray and commemorate the moment.

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He said: "We have had to bounce from place to place to have our prayers all these years, and everyone is now just so relieved and happy - it feels really, really good.

"The timing is also great with Ramadan which is the holiest month for us.

"This comes after years of hopes and collecting money bit by bit, and also chasing higher market values as we go.

"But we have now finally done it and we are thinking it is a miracle."

As well as the decade-long search to find a permanent home, the charity also faced a campaign against its plans to convert the former Home Guard club which were approved by Harrogate Borough Council in March.

Several residents had received letters in the post which said they should object to the plans because the mosque would “only serve one section of the community”.

Planning lawyer Gavin Boby - who calls himself “the mosque buster” - also said in a YouTube video that he had been asked to help campaign against the plans.

Mr Amanullah said he believed the "goodwill" of the local community helped the charity overcome the campaign and that the focus was now on starting the renovation of the building which will be used for religious, community and charitable events.

The former Home Guard Club was originally a hospital from 1873 until 1883, before being used as Harrogate’s first custom-built Masonic Hall.

It is estimated the renovation works will cost around £50,000 and if all goes to plan, the mosque could partially open by the end of summer.

Mr Amanullah said: "It is now up to us to make this what we promised it would be and that is a building that everyone can be proud of.

"Once it is restored, people will really appreciate that a piece of Harrogate's history has been restored - and we will love being caretakers of that."

By Jacob Webster, Local Democracy Reporter