It’s time to say goodbye to the old church

Demolition of the old church started on Monday 10th February. It’s very sad, and strange, to see the old church gone: it has been an imposing landmark in Stanley for nearly 100 years and many people will treasure memories of attending significant events there: family weddings, baptisms and funerals.

Rev Bill Henderson held a Commemoration Service next to the old church on Sunday 9th February at 3pm, to acknowledge these memories and to give thanks for how the building has served our community. As it will be an outdoor service, please dress appropriately with suitable footwear. After the service, everyone was welcomed back to the Church on Lake Lock Road for refreshments and to continue sharing thoughts and memories.

Many items including the war memorial, pulpit, font and font cover have been removed from the church and are being stored safely. Protective covers have been built around the graves nearest the building to guard them from damage. The Diocese applied for planning permission to build a temporary road from Aberford Road up to the church to facilitate the demolition. The majority of the stone is expected to be crushed on site, and used to fill the crypt.

Discussions are continuing about how the site can be landscaped for the future, which hopefully will include an outline of the old church, seating, and a new home for the war memorial. Groundworks have already been commissioned to prepare a preliminary design.

Demolition of the church was approved by the Church Commissioners after a long process of public consultation and an appeal.

Cracks in the church appeared only 15 years after it was rebuilt after the fire of 1911, and it has been propped up from the inside since the 1930’s. Over the decades, the situation worsened, until the building became structurally unsound and dangerous.  The congregation moved out in 2001 and a planning application to save the façade of the building and convert the interior into flats failed. Further attempts to find a developer for the site also failed, and so the Church Commissioners moved to have the church demolished.

Although the old church as a building will no longer exist, it is important to remember that St Peter’s church as a body of people is very much alive, and serving the community.  It is important that there is a building that can be recognised as the home for this worshipping community and as a sacred space in the village. We are looking at ways of making the building we use now much more suitable.

In the next couple of months, there will be an exhibition at the church on Lake Lock Road of photographs and memorabilia of the old church to which everyone is invited to contribute items. This will also be an opportunity to review the plans for the landscaping of the old church site.

Finally, the poem below was written about the old church, and is reprinted with permission from Wally Barnsley, of Selby:

Though I seem to crumble

I kneel before God in prayer

To salute the people of Stanley

For the joy that we did share


An obelisk of darkened stone

Though once stood proud and tall

Say one last prayer for me

Before I finally fall.

G.J.A. Barnsley


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