Building work has started to make a Bristol mosque one of the largest of its kind in the city.
Easton Jamia Mosque, in St Mark’s Road, has laid the first stone in preparation for the extension in its courtyard.
Planning permission was granted last year for the two-storey extension at the site of the mosque.
Elders who first established the place of worship joined their congregation in laying the first stone and holding a prayer at the site.
The mosque, already one of the biggest in Bristol, will be able to accommodate more than 650 people when the extension is complete.
The £250,000 refurbishment will make it one of only a handful of mosques in the city able to accommodate that number of people.
Sitting across St Mark’s Baptist Church, the Easton mosque was first established in 1983.
Chairman of the mosque, Abdul Malik, said: “There is a need here for the Muslim community and this will help to expand the capacity and facilities for the future generations.
“We get quite a lot of worshippers here, and it can get quite busy that some of them was worshipping outside the building or into the pavement.
“This will make it a much safer place, and we have a comprehensive travel plan and hope to get people to walk or cycle here.”
The mosque was one of the first of its kind in the city back in the 1980s, and has established a faithful following over the years.
Among them was Mr Malik, who grew up in the mosque. It now serves hundreds of Muslims, who carry out various community activities, including providing food for the homeless over Christmas.
“We’ve always had a good relationship with our community, including the church opposite,” he said.
“I think it sends a positive message. We hold quite a few activities together and we are quite involved around here.
“My family grew up here. My father passed away a few years ago, and this was his dream – to see the mosque expand.
“He was one of the elders here, and he would be very proud to see what we’ve achieved in the last few years and see how we’ve grown.”
The mosque is also home to an after-school club teaching faith lessons to youngsters.
“The mosque provides us with social comfortable and the environment for us to safely practise our faith,” Mr Malik said.
“We’ve been looking to expand the mosque for a few years, and this is finally the chance to get something done. The money has been raised through various means, and we’re glad we can now start.”