AN HISTORIC church has been forced to shut due to the high cost of maintaining its roof.

St John in the Wilderness, in Whalley Road, Shuttleworth was built in 1948, but closed its doors on Monday after it could not raise the £250,000 necessary for repairs.

The church was shut temporarily due to damage to its ceiling in 2016 when an architect’s inspection raised concerns that plaster was chipping away, posing a safety worry.

Following consultations, it was decided that raising the money to pay for the repairs was not feasible.

The Reverend Andy Lindop, who was the church's vicar, said: “The closure is a very sad loss to the local community and for those who worshipped there all their lives. They are understandably very upset, but it is the right thing to do.”

“The building is in a very poor state. The church had a congregation of 15 people and they had the responsibility of maintaining the building so it was the practical option to shut it."

Ramsbottom Cllr Ian Bevan said: “It’s very disappointing because it’s been there a very long time.

"I live in Shuttleworth myself and my daughter was christened there. It has been a big part of the community in the village so it will be a big loss.

“Over the years the congregation has dwindled and we have a lot of other churches in the parish.

“It is disappointing but it is understandable that they can’t afford the maintenance costs to the building. It’s just not economical to repair it.”

Of the building’s future, Cllr Bevan said he hoped the building could be restored and used for residential properties similar to the those at nearby Park Chapel in Manchester Road.

He added: “It is a good stone building so it would be a real shame to see it knocked down and replaced by something else.

“Hopefully the church hall is not lost because that is used by the community and the scouts.”