Dry rot leads to closure of Cliviger church

HISTORIC: St John's Church in Cliviger .
HISTORIC: St John's Church in Cliviger .

ONE of Burnley’s oldest churches has been infested with dry rot – forcing it to close its doors for an indefinite period.

St John’s Church, Cliviger, held its last service last Sunday before workers will assess the scale of the dry rot, which the Rev. Keith Henshall puts at a conservative cost of £100,000.

The Mayor of Burnley’s Civic Sunday service, earmarked for the church, will now be held in St John the Evangelist Church, Worsthorne.

Ironically, it was the new Mayor, Coun. David Heginbotham, who spotted the dry rot at an Evensong service at the Georgian church.

Mr Henshall said: “I originally thought it was just cobwebs but the mayor was adamant it was dry rot, sadly.

“In one sense it’s a disaster but I am relieved he spotted it. Nevertheless it is going to cost a lot of money to repair. We have a fine Victorian organ in the church which is going to be covered to protect it, and we will have to move out while work is done.

“Until the workmen can take the roof off we have no idea the scale of the damage or cost, but it is looking like £100,000 at the very least.”

He said services would be held in the Church House, part of Cliviger Primary School, while work is carried out. Recent lead thefts from the roof also mean alarmed scaffolding will have to be put up, escalating the costs.

“We will get support from the diocese and undoubtedly from the community, but it will be tough. I’ve no doubt there will be a lot of fund-raising activities in the coming months.”

St John’s Church is one of the oldest in Burnley. Built in 1795, its churchyard is the final resting place of the hero of the Crimean War, General Sir James Yorke Scarlett, who led the charge of the Heavy Brigade during the Battle of Balaclava in 1854.