A DARWEN history enthusiast is trying to save a 'breathtaking' mosaic war memorial in a closed church for the people of the town.

Albert Gavagan, 65, was stunned when he first saw the image of Leonardo Da Vinci's 'Last Supper' above the communion table in Hollins Grove Congregational Church at the junction of Blackburn Road and Hawkshaw Avenue.

The former teacher hopes to find the cash and expertise to have 15 foot by five foot mosaic with two side panels removed and transferred to Darwen Heritage Centre where he is volunteer and secretary.

Mr Gavagan said: "Hollins Grove Congregational Church closed its doors to the public on December 7 2018, and I had been searching out all of the remaining war memorials in Darwen as part of the Centenary commemorations of the end of the Great War.

"I knew that the church held three such memorials, one of which was a mosaic, and after much negotiation I gained access to the church in order to take the photographs.

"I had imagined what the mosaic would be like and thought I was looking for something fixed to a board approximately the same sort of size as the other memorials found in churches.

" Instead, despite the sorry state of the interior of the church, the quality and the size of the mosaic took me completely by surprise.

"The sight which greeted me was breathtaking.

"The booklet for the Memorial Dedication Service, conducted on Sunday evening April 10 1921, states: 'We have thought that nothing but the best would be worthy of those who offered themselves, and suffered, and died that we might live'.

" In 1921 this had cost the church in the region of £1,900, and is, in my opinion, worth every penny.

"The thought this wonderful tribute could be lost depending on the fate of the building does not bear thinking about.

"I have tried the War Memorials Trust to see if they could offer financial help to remove the mosaic and re-site it for the people of Darwen but to no avail.

"The matter has now been put in the hands of Darwen Town Council, but time is limited.

"At the moment we do not know if it is possible to remove the mosaic safely and erect it elsewhere, preferably where the public can gain access such as the Heritage Centre.

"I do feel that we should make every effort to preserve it.

"If it proves impossible to move the whole of the mosaic then I suggest that the two side panels which hold the dedication and the names of the fallen should be the least that we preserve."

Darwen Town Council decided last week that while the mosaic is too large, fragile and expensive for it to move but will explore options for its preservation.