Thieves steal lead from Hartlepool church roof as work starts to replace metal taken in last raid

Father Graeme Buttery outside of St Oswald's Church, Brougham Terrace, Hartlepool. Picture by FRANK REID
Father Graeme Buttery outside of St Oswald's Church, Brougham Terrace, Hartlepool. Picture by FRANK REID

Thieves stripped lead from a Hartlepool church’s roof after it raised more than £80,000 to replace lead previously stolen.

Criminals struck for a second time at St Oswald’s Church in Brougham Terrace just as work started to replace lead that was stolen in 2015.

St Oswald's Church, Brougham Terrace, Hartlepool. Picture by FRANK REID

St Oswald's Church, Brougham Terrace, Hartlepool. Picture by FRANK REID

Grade I listed St Hilda’s Church has also been targeted recently by lead thieves who have caused thousands of pounds worth of damage.

St Oswald’s raised £83,500 after it was discovered a lot of lead had been stolen from the roof during in inspection in August 2015.

The church got £52,000 from a government scheme but raised £31,500 itself.

Father Graeme Buttery, from St Oswald’s, said: “They have taken a fair amount of lead that was left and have damaged the roof in the process.

“We are looking now at possibly another £5,000 added to the bill.

“It has taken us 18 months to get this far, now we have got to potentially find some more money.

“Our annual income is £36,000 so we raised effectively another year’s income from scratch from small grants and all the sorts of things churches do to raise money.

“I feel very strongly for my parishioners who have strived and struggled to raise the money because they are extremely committed to the church.

“I’m really upset and not a little angry.”

It is not known if the thieves used the scaffolding erected to repair the roof in order to steal the lead.

But Father Graeme they were taking a big risk as the roof is 40 feet high.

He said: “It is a steep pitched roof. It only takes one slip and they will come an almighty cropper.”

The historic St Hilda’s Church on the Headland has also been left counting the cost due to lead thieves.

An amount of the protective metal was striped from the church’s roof last week.

Although it was recovered a short while later in a wheelie bin it is unusable.

Reverend Verity Brown said: “St Hilda’s is one of the oldest and most valuable buildings in the town and it’s really disappointing that somebody would target it like this.

“It has bene a major act of vandalism. It is the damage they did when they took the lead. They have damaged the stonework and mortar between the stones.

“With St Hilda’s being grade one listed it has to have special repairs.

“It is going to be thousands of pounds.”