A CHURCH that was forced to close for the first time in 800
years, after lead-thieves repeatedly targeted its roof, was
reopened last weekend after a fund-raising effort by its
The 13th-century St Cuthbert's, in Redmarshall, near
Stockton-on-Tees, was shut in November last year, after seven
attacks in three months. Water had been pouring into the building,
fusing its electrics and badly damaging the fabric and 17th-century
The roof insurance was limited to £5000 a year; so parishioners
had to find almost all the £45,000 cost of renovation. They also
had to enter detailed negotiations with English Heritage for
permission to replace the roof of the Grade I listed building with
In 13 months, however, with help from local organisations and
individuals, the Banks Community Fund, and the Impetus Trust, they
have been able to replace the roof, restore the pews, overhaul the
electrics, redecorate, and even add a new lighting conductor.
"We are still short of about £4000, but we have been able to get
that underwritten," the churchwarden, Eric Smalley, said. "We have
had good friends in Carlton Methodist Chapel, who took on the waifs
and strays and allowed us to hold services and meetings there."
The reopening included a rededication service led by the
Archdeacon of Auckland, the Ven. Nick Barker.