St. Chad’s Rochdale – Picture credit: Credit: Alamy Stock Photo via Daily Telegraph
Launching a government funded £1.8m scheme to maintain and preserve some of Britain’s most beautiful churches that are at risk, Historic England Chief Executive, Duncan Wilson, said: “ We are committed to supporting congregations who care for these extraordinary buildings and pleased that the pilot will be looking not only at the buildings themselves, but also at how they can be imaginatively used so they can once again be at the heart of local communities.”
The scheme, to be managed by Historic England, will pay for urgent repairs and support the efforts of volunteers to maintain listed buildings including churches, synagogues, and meeting houses in two pilot areas, Suffolk and Greater Manchester. The tasks involved often require specialist skills.
The pilot regions were chosen because one is more urban and other other more rural, and the scope of the project has been based on the recommendations of last year’s Taylor Review which examined the sustainability of English churches and cathedrals. The report stated that church buildings play a “vital role” in offering public services, and give communities a sense of identity.
It recommended that they should be opened up for other uses, such as Post Offices, flu jabs and youth clubs to help ensure a more sustainable future for the buildings. The Daily Stirrer and our predecessor were, as usual, way ahead of the game when we suggested ten years ago that such a scheme was needed.
The diocese of Manchester has already earmarked for help from the scheme, Anglican churches which could benefit from the fund, including St Chad’s, Rochdale (above), a Grade I listed church in need of repair, and St Thomas, Halliwell which needs modernising and plans to work with a local school.
Manchester’s churches are already used to host foodbanks, breakfast and holiday clubs, credit unions and debt advice centres and support services for refuges and asylum seekers.
Now we will make another suggestion that we hope politicians and bureaucrats might one day catch up with. Part of the cost of this scheme could be offset if government departments and local councils stop giving generous grants to Muslim organisations for the building of Mosques and ‘Islamic Study Centres (aka training schools for jihadists.) There is no place in civilised, tolerant Britain for the brutal and primitive laws and customs of a medieval religion like Islam.