Fears that a forgotten garden of remembrance could be bulldozed and the ashes of more than 100 people reburied elsewhere have been laid to rest.
The plot of land in Deepdale, Preston, which residents complained was being used for football, fly-tipping and as a doggy toilet, has now been fenced off and tidied up by church leaders.
And local vicar Rev Graham Nelson, who officiated at the adjacent church for 14 years, said: “I think it is highly unlikely now that this land will be deconsecrated and built on. I’m delighted it has now got a smart fence and is looking tidy in this its 80th anniversary.”
The grassed area used to be part of St Oswald’s Church which was built in 1934 and knocked down in the early nineties to make way for the adjacent Church Court housing. The congregation moved to the youth centre building nearby in 1987 and the church merged with St Jude’s in Deepdale when that closed down in 2001.
The amalgamated St Oswald with St Jude finally closed its doors in 2010 and the building was taken over by the Romanian Orthodox Catholic Church. The old St Oswald’s vicarage was also sold off as a private house, leaving just the remembrance garden still owned by the Blackburn Diocese.
Coun Terry Cartwright, who has been campaigning for 10 years to have the land restored and respected, said: “It’s brilliant news. The fear was that, just like a couple of other churches in Preston, the land would be deconsecrated and the ashes dug up.
“That would be awful because relatives still go there - one even comes over from Canada. No-one knows just how many sets of ashes are in there because the records were destroyed in a break-in.”