CLITHEROE'S first mosque is open for prayer and worship after work to refurbish the ground floor was completed.

The town’s small Islamic community is now able to worship in their home town for the first time since the community arrived there 40 years ago.

Muslim leaders have been fundraising over the last few years to try and fully open Clitheroe Masjid in Lowergate as quickly as possible.

The renovation of the disused former Mount Zion Methodist Chapel comes eight years after the town’s Medina Islamic Education Centre was granted planning permission.

The upper floor of the building won’t be completed for another couple of years but is intended to serve as a community centre where other groups can hold meetings.

The mosque is now used regularly for worship and meetings by the community.

More than £400 was raised recently by the mosque’s children to be donated to the Northwest Cleft Foundation. Trustee Sheraz Arshad said: “It’s great that we have this space to worship and pray.

“I hope that it will become a vital service for the community over the coming years.

“It was never meant to be just for one section of the community and is open to all groups to use.

“I’m very pleased that the ground floor is fully finished and we expect the upper floor to be finished in the next couple of years.

“We always wanted the centre to be of benefit to the whole community. It’s a vital place for people to come who want to observe their religious observations.”

The chapel can be seen in the 1954 painting A Street in Clitheroe, one of several paintings that Lowry, famous for his matchstick men, made of the town.

Clitheroe Town Council leader Mary Robinson said: “It has been a long time in the coming and it a positive move for the community.

“I wish them all the best and I think it will be a benefit to the community”.