Disused church in Widnes restored for charity offices

St Marie's Church, Widnes
Image caption St Marie's Church was saved from demolition when it was Grade II listed

A church designed by architect Edward Pugin is being restored thanks to a £1.6m lottery grant.

St Marie's RC Church in Lugsdale Road, Widnes, was built in 1896 but has been unused since it closed six years ago.

A project funded with a grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund will help transform the Grade II listed building.

Halton and St Helens Voluntary Community Action will relocate there in May in newly-constructed offices within the restored church.

The architect, Edward Welby Pugin, designed and completed more than 100 Catholic churches.

First communion

Matthew Roberts, from the charity, said the development "pays tribute" to the church's past and by next May it will be "restored to its heyday".

Roger Harrison, former head teacher at St Gerard's primary school, was baptised and took his first communion and confession there.

He said it was "so exciting" the church will be alive again. It was very important for the community, he added.

The red brick church was saved from demolition with the help of Halton Council, after it was listed by English Heritage.

It was built to accommodate large numbers of Irish immigrants who came to work in nearby chemical factories.

The Victorian Society identified it as being one of the 10 most endangered Victorian buildings in Britain.

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