A town centre church will swing open its doors again after a £200,000 restoration project to stop it sinking.
St George’s Church, which dates back to the Napoleonic wars, re-opens for services on Sunday, December 3.
It follows six months of restoration work funded by the English Heritage Lottery Fund and members of St George’s.
The Bishop of Blackburn will re-dedicate the church at the 10am service on Sunday, December 10.
Since May specialist contractors have been busy stabilising the structures of St George’s as its north west corner had subsided by about 5ft. Stabilising the sinking floor at St George’s has been “extraordinarily successful” said Alan Gibson, chairman of the church finance committee.
“It’s on budget and on time,” said Alan. “It’s going to be interesting to move back in because of course the majority of the work won’t be seen because it was beneath the floor boards.
“Of course it’s been challenging being out of a church for six months but services have gone on in the hall much better than anticipated.
“There was an informal cozy feeling but we are obviously keen to get back in the church.
“It was a tremendous logistical effort moving everything out of the church and into the hall but we have got 30 volunteers who will help moving everything back again so that makes it more manageable.”
Photographer Alan Farrington has been documenting the work undertaken at the church, which was originally built and paid for with revenue collected from the French following the Napoleonic wars.
He says the church will be able to be a centre for community events once it is open again.
“Before we couldn’t use the upstairs gallery, it had sunk, whereas now we will be able to hold bigger functions and host bigger congregations, ” he said.
St George’s has a capacity for about 1,000 people and the work will allow more space for school services, family functions and popular annual festival occasions.
Alan said: “Before the work we couldn’t use the upstairs because of health and safety considerations but the work means the upstairs gallery can be reopened.”
An annual popular Christmas Fayre, which takes place on Saturday, December 2, will also return with the reopening of the church.
The fair, to be officially opened by MP, Lindsay Hoyle at 10.30am, is to be held in the Church Hall in Halliwell Street.
There will be stalls, games and lots more, including a visit from Father Christmas.
An auction will take place at 11.40am. Admission is 50p with accompanied children free.
Refreshments will be available 10am-1.30pm.