A TRUST has been set up to try to help save a church and keep it at the heart of the community.

Last year, St James' Church, Church Kirk, was put up for sale with offers invited on the building, which is being marketed by Lea Hough and Company in Blackburn.

The historic church has been a vital part of the community. The tower dates back to 1148 and the nave to 1809, being finally completed in 1860.

The site was dedicated when St Oswald came to Lancashire from Northumbria and constructed a wooden church in 642.

The church which has been out of use since November 2015.

Gary Britland, who is part of a group set up to regenerate the church, insists it is vital the building stays for the community.

He said: “After Whalley Abbey fell this building carried the most important church among villages in the area.

“People travelled from as far away as Haslingden to visit and many more from a 15-mile radius.

“The history of the building dates back to St Oswald when he came here on his way to fight the Mercian ruler Penda.

“During the Industrial Revolution people put a lot of money into rebuilding the church including Frederick Gatty and Frederick Steiner, who made their money from turkey red dying.

“There are lots of stained glass windows in the church and our worry is that they will be changed. It is our heritage.

“It is so important as this area need to be revived and there is no places to socialise and eat and become a hub for the community.”

The group is in the process of formally establishing a Charitable Incorporated Organisation called Church Kirk Regeneration Trust.

Eight people have agreed to be trustees, and Hyndburn MP Graham Jones and Church councillor Loraine Cox are two of the eight.

Mr Jones said: “We have had some fantastic and committed volunteers agree to be trustees, some have great experience in heritage projects.

“Including myself and Cllr Loraine Cox, we have eight people who have agreed to be trustees.

“I wrote to the Diocese before Christmas on behalf of our group, to explain that we’re in the process of formally establishing a charitable incorporated organisation to hopefully secure funding that would allow the church to be kept for local community use.

“We’re feeling very positive about the project.

“We’re extremely keen to keep residents involved.

“I previously sent out surveys to a number of residents, but as a group we are going to broaden this out to the wider community over the next few months, to see what residents wish to see happen to the church.

“We know that there are years of hard work ahead of us yet, however we are passionate about saving the church.”