St Mary’s church in Middleton is celebrating after receiving £15,000 from the Yorkshire Historic Churches Trust (YHCT) to help fund urgent structural repair work.
Built in 1846, the imposing grade II listed church was designed by Robert Chantrell, architect of Leeds Minster, and stands in a prominent position on Town Street near to the gates of Middleton Park.
Up until 1968, Middleton was a thriving coal mining community with a colliery that used the world’s first steam powered locomotive, dating back to 1812. Coal mining was allowed to take place under St Mary’s Church between 1917 and 1968, which resulted in substantial subsidence and damage.
Repairs have long been needed to ensure the church’s future, and the vicar, the Reverend Andy Myers, has been tireless in his campaign to save the church and keep it open for the local community.
Rev. Myers is the latest vicar dedicated to protecting the church, with one of his predecessors once spending the night in the church after a spate of lead thefts, to increase security and deter further would-be burglars.
The £15,000 from the YHCT, which awards grants to help preserve places of worship throughout Yorkshire, sits alongside support from the Heritage Lottery Fund and parish reserves. This combined funding means that the vital repair work needed to secure the church’s long term future, can now take place.
Rev. Myers said “This church has so much to offer. We are in the heart of the community and, in challenging times, it is essential that we remain open for worship. There is a great community spirit here in Middleton and the church hall is busy most days of the week, hosting clubs and activities. Following the recent closure of the Methodist church, it is vital we remain open to provide a base for community activities to take place.”
Cllr Judith Blake, who represents the ward on Leeds City Council and is also Leader of Leeds City Council, said: “Middleton is a vibrant area with a proud history. The park has undergone a £2.2m refurbishment and has an active Friends group who continue to protect the wildlife and promote activities within it, and the railway attracts visitors from far and wide. St Mary’s holds a special place in the hearts of local people, offering a range of activities and a place to worship. I am delighted that the YHCT has awarded this funding, and helped preserve the building for many more years to come.”
David Quick, Chairman of the Yorkshire Historic Churches Trust, added: “The YHCT relies on the generosity of friends and donors to help the region’s much loved places of worship in need of urgent repair and restoration. We are delighted to be able to award St Mary’s £15,000 to ensure the repairs to the walls of this wonderful church can be undertaken.”