Sadness at plight of church

John Beirne at Holy Trinity Church Fingerpost with Walter Higginson, Jean Cunningham, Harold Holloway and Jean Denny

John Beirne at Holy Trinity Church Fingerpost with Walter Higginson, Jean Cunningham, Harold Holloway and Jean Denny

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AN iconic St Helens church is set to close.

Holy Trinity Church in Fingerpost, known to many as the Giraffe Church because of its distinctive patterned brickwork, is set to be vacated by church council members as soon as a buyer is found.

Rev John Draycott says the ongoing cost of running the Traverse Street building could bankrupt the church and a decision has been made to sell the land and building to secure its future.

Rev Draycott said: “The church is in a state of disrepair but even if there was enough money for all the repairs we still couldn’t afford to stay in the building because the overheads are too high.

“We can’t afford to keep going in this building and we will become bankrupt in a short space of time if we don’t do what we are proposing.

“We will use the money from the sale to finance a new building that will be on the old vicarage. That will be financially more viable and we will be able to open the building out to the community.”

But former mayor John Beirne, who attends the church every Sunday, strongly opposes the plan.

He said: “The church is still used by community groups every day and there are no other community facilities like it in Fingerpost.

“I’m in talks with the Diocese to try to continue community use of the building. English Heritage will oppose any plans to demolish the church - which is a grade II listed building - but I don’t think anyone will want to buy the building in its current state.

“There’s no way they’ll get £50,000 for it. They’re living in cloud cuckoo land.”

But Rev Draycott added: “John (Beirne) always says, ‘save the building, save the building’, but what are his ideas for the future?

“It’s been a difficult decision to wrestle with. In an ideal world we would like to see the church full and people giving to the church because that’s how we survive and manage our financial obligations.

“But a wall fell down last year and that cost £11,000 to repair. When that happens you think, ‘This doesn’t bode well’.”