A 170-year-old historic Helmshore landmark could eventually collapse if work is not done to repair it.

The spire of St Thomas’ Church has been a prominent focal point for many residents and visitors to the Rossendale Valley.  Its towering spire at the foot of Musbury Tor is one of the first things people see.

However, a recent investigation of the tower’s mason and timber led to an open meeting being called earlier this week to discuss the options available to save the structure.

The meeting heard from experts and also that the costs to repair the structure could amount to hundreds of thousands of pounds.

The church said, following a survey in April 2023, findings revealed that for a number of years water has been able to penetrate the masonry of the tower and spire. This despite the efforts of the church in previous decades to rectify this issue.

Failed pointing in the spire has allowed water to be fed into the walls of the tower. This, in turn, has led to decay of internal timbers, including the floors of the various levels inside the tower.

A team from John Coward Architects, who specialise in church conservations were commissioned to provide a 'forensic review' of the current condition of the tower and spire.

Lancashire Telegraph: A meeting was held to explore options to save the tower and below the section of the spire (in red) which is under threat

Lancashire Telegraph:

Mike Darwell presented the findings of their report at the meeting, detailing the current condition of the spire and tower and highlighted the main areas of concern. 

The main concern from their findings, along with the heavy water ingress was that the ‘tip’ of the spire was in dire need of repair. 

Attendees were given three options, repair the tower at an estimated cost of £550,000; take down the spire and leave the tower and bell house at an estimated cost of £350,000 and finally, take down and rebuild the spire, at an estimated cost of £650,000.

The meeting heard that money would have to raised by the church.

Lancashire Telegraph:

Vicar of St Thomas', Father David Stephenson said the Parish Council will now be looking to work with partners in the community and local businesses to setup a committee group to take the project forward. 
He said: "I know how much St Thomas' is cared about - not just by those who come week by week to worship, but the many who see it as their family church, the place where they've been baptised, married and where loved ones have had funeral services. The spire can be seen for miles around - it's a local landmark.

“To consider it not being there is unthinkable. I really hope that the community will want to work with us to find a way forward and keep St Thomas' looking as it has since 1851 when it was built.”

If you think you can help the church or would like to find more you can e-mail frdavidstephenson@gmail.com