WORK has started on a £150,000 project to repair a church’s crumbling stonework and restore it to its former glory.
Holy Trinity Church, in Seaton Carew, has been awarded £56,000 towards the scheme by the Heritage Lottery Fund.
Architects have made their first investigations into the state of the building which dates back to the early 1800s.
They examined the stonework in close detail by going up in a cherry picker.
Carol Cliffe, co-ordinator of the project’s Wing and a Prayer Appeal, said: “The work is all part of the preliminary work which English Heritage has given us some money towards to get proper estaimates done and find out exactly what needs to be done to the church, particularly the tower.
“The architect will oversee the whole thing from start to finish.
“The civil engineer and architect found some extra problems in the stonework we didn’t know about.
“You don’t realise until you get close up how bad it is.”
The church in Crawford Street, which is on English Heritage’s Buildings at Risk register,launched its restoration appeal last year to kick-start a series of fundraising initiatives.
With the Heritage Lottery’s help they have raised more than £80,000.
Carol said despite the additional problems discovered, it was nice to see work finally getting underway.
She added: “It definitely makes it feel more real and it is really nice to see something beginning to happen.
“It is a good first step.”
A conservationist is also carrying out a survey of the church to find out if there are any bats in the belfry.
English Heritage has given the church £6,000 for the preliminary work.
It will help the architect and engineer to come up with concrete estimates for the cost of the work which wil go out to tender.
It is hoped English Heritage will then release the rest of the grant on the condition that the church has been able to match it.