DEMOLITION has begun on an historic building in Radcliffe.

Chapel House, in Smyrna Street, is being knocked down in place of new homes.

Bury Council gave construction firm Fusilier Manufacturing permission for the development in December 2016.

But residents say the loss of the 19th Century Sunday school, which has since been used as a sheet metal factory, is 'a great pity'.

Former owner of the building Harold Southern said: "It is very very sad to know it is being demolished.

"It was such a nice building. We had it for eight years but we had to sell it around two years ago.

"It was previously used by an engineering firm, Woodmod Ltd.

"There used to be dozens of workers using the site."

The building was erected in 1883 as a Sunday school building but changed its use in 1962 when the Methodist New Connexion Church amalgamated with others to become the New Wesley Methodist Church.

It was then used as a joinery workshop.

A heritage statement submitted with the original application said: "By 1855 a Church/Sunday school was financed on the corner of Ainsworth Road and Smyrna Street which gradually became over-subscribed.

"More floor space was required, so in 1883, a date stone was laid by William Agnew MP to commemorate a separate Sunday school on a new site in Smyrna Street, our subject building."

The Sunday school building was sold in 1962, when the Methodist New Connexion Church amalgamated with others to become the New Wesley Methodist Church, and has since been used as a joinery workshop.

Resident Chris Butt, from Radcliffe, said: "It's a pity we are losing some of these old buildings to make new housing.

"I grew up near that area as a child, and I always remember it being Bromelow Sheet Metal factory.

"I used to work at Park Cross, where the nails are now stored, which is how I know about the factory."

Resident Neil Higginson, aged 53, formerly of Radcliffe, said: "I used to do electrical work with Harry Finlow when this building was Bromelow Sheet Metal.

"Why are they knocking down buildings like this? We should protect the ones still left in Radcliffe."

Mr Higginson, who now lives in Bury, said he believes in saving the historical buildings in the town.

Fusilier Manufacturing asked Bury Council for permission to pull down the building in August 2016, saying that there 'has been no interest in anyone using the building, and it has fallen into disrepair.'

They said slates, brickwork and stonework from the historic building would be salvaged for re-use after it is dismantled.