WORK has started to rebuild a crumbling church steeple in Clitheroe.

St Mary Magdalene’s Church needs £320,000 to reconstruct its steeple and spire after pieces of stone started to fall off.

The first warning signs that work needed to be done came several years ago, when parts of the steeple began crumbling away, leaving gaps in the structure.

Rev Andy Froud said the steeple was an important landmark on the Ribble Valley skyline.

He said: “It has been here for about 168 years. Some work was done in the ‘60s when the spire twisted.”

Rev Froud said the problem was that aniron framework had. over the years expanded. and forced the stone to fall away.

He said: “The hope is that the builders will replace all the stone and metal work out and at the end, we will have something that will last another 168 years.”

The same style of stone will be used to rebuild the structure and any metal work will be done in stainless steel, which will last much longer.

The church has received donations from several sources including a £5,000 anonymous cheque and £1,000 from Moorland Primary School, in Ribblesdale Avenue.

More funding has been provided by Clitheroe Town Council and The English Heritage Lottery Fund, which gave £142,000 to the cause.

But Rev Froud said he wanted to encourage people to keep raising money for the church.

He said: “We need to keep donations coming because we have a target of £70,000 this year.

“It is looking good but we want to keep encouraging people to donate.

“The people of Clitheroe have been absolutely fantastic, whether they are churchgoers or not, or people from other churches in the area.”

“Everybody has really pulled together.”