Volunteers needed to help tidy overgrown grounds of vacant St John the Baptist Church in Smallbridge

Date published: 04 May 2021

Volunteers are asked to meet at St John the Baptist to help tidy its overgrown grounds on Saturday 15 May as local church folk are concerned that the Smallbridge site is looking sad and unkempt.

The Grade-II listed building on Halifax Road was closed by the Church of England 13 years ago and has since stood empty - a sad reminder of its glorious past when it served the Anglicans of Smallbridge for nearly 175 years.

Between 1834 and 2008 generations have worshipped there, been baptised, married, sung in the choir and had funerals there.

Many who spent their whole lives in Smallbridge are buried there, but Anglicans in modern Smallbridge are asked to worship at nearby St Andrew's, Dearnley or at Wardle Village Church, which shares its building with local Methodists.

The benefice covers Dearnley, Wardle and Smallbridge, but there's no Anglican church building in Smallbridge -- only memories, an old, once much-loved building and the graves of people to whom St John's was a large part of their lives.

Incumbent Rev Rachel Battershell has pointed out that the overgrown grounds are the responsibility of the benefice and that St Andrew's and Wardle Village Church have so far paid to maintain the grass and have it cut.

She added: "Cutting the grass is one thing, but the grounds have become overgrown over the last few years and we need volunteers please to maintain them."

Anyone who can help, please turn up at St John's at 9.30am on Saturday 15 May with their own gardening equipment to tidy up the grounds.

Social distancing will be observed.

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