Half-a-million pound Hartlepool church restoration campaign launched

St. Mary's parish council member Bernadette Malcolmson with a wooden model of the church.  Picture by FRANK REID

St. Mary's parish council member Bernadette Malcolmson with a wooden model of the church. Picture by FRANK REID

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A church with more than 160 years of history is in urgent need of repairs and Hartlepool people are being urged to play their part in its restoration.

Around £500,000 is needed to restore St Mary’s Church on the Headland to its former glory.

Hopefully this will be the start of the journey where we can start the restoration program and build the community even further as we go

Bernadette Malcolmson

That includes the bell tower which is crumbling from the inside out, exterior walls and work on the floor which is “lifting down the aisle,” said St. Mary’s parish council member Bernadette Malcolmson.

She urged as many people as possible to come to a social night at the Duke of Cleveland this Friday from 7pm.

The meeting comes after church campaigners launched a bid for Heritage Lottery Funding.

Bernadette explained: “The diocese will be submitting an application on our behalf but we’ve been asked to provide a history of the church and generate some ideas as to the way we’d like to use the property for more than just a church in future such as community events, more open access and such like.

“We’re going to be hosting a social night at the Duke of Cleveland to get people together to come up with a range of ideas for potential future uses of the church.

“The whole town is now part of one parish called the Holy Family and we want people from across Hartlepool to attend this evening and share their ideas. Churches, schools, community groups, young and old to share their thoughts.”

She said the vast majority of the money would be “for structural and safety means.

“The bell tower is going to be one of the priorities as the stonework has crumbled somewhat from the inside out and that will need securing as one of the highest priorities.

“The exterior walls need attention, the floor is lifting down the aisle and a lot of the windows in the church will also need replacing.”

Bernadette added: “The proposal for the evening is for people to come and share lots of innovative ideas as to how St Mary’s church could be used more for the benefit of everyone in the wider community.

“We hope many people will come and share their ideas and there really is no such thing as a bad idea. We’re open to all suggestions.

“We would also like ideas about the ways that we might re-design the interior of the church to make it more open and accessible for people and a range of different events.”

The evening is free of charge (although donations are welcome) and includes a pie and pea supper and raffle as well as the discussion on the future of the church.

“These ideas are so important as without Lottery Funding it’s very hard to see how we could raise the kind of money needed to restore the building ourselves,” said Bernadette.

“Hopefully this will be the start of the journey where we can start the restoration program and build the community even further as we go.

“Discussion will be followed by a free pie and pea supper and a raffle but we would like people to book their place so we know numbers for catering.”

Those interested in attending should contact Amanda in the Parish Office on (01429) 267457 between 10am and 2pm from Monday to Friday, or email holyfamilyhartlepool@gmail.com to confirm.