Church roof damaged by lightning strike

26 July 2013

CAVENDISH PRESS

Lighting-flash and thunder-storm:above, the exterior of St Andrew's, Ramsbottom, showing the hole in the roof

Lighting-flash and thunder-storm:above, the exterior of St Andrew's, Ramsbottom, showing the hole in the roof

A PARISH church has been declared structurally unsafe after a light- ning strike sent masonry crashing through its roof into the nave, writes Paul Wilkinson.

Parts of an eight-foot stone pinnacle were dislodged when the tower of St Andrew's, Ramsbottom, near Bury, in Greater Manchester, was struck during a thunderstorm on Tuesday morning. No one was in the building at the time, but engineers fear that more masonry could fall.

Some of the stonework also fell into the adjoining playground of St Andrew's Church of England Primary School, making large dents in the tarmac. The school's 240 pupils broke up for the summer last week, and many had been in the church for performances, and for an end-of-term service, only a few days before.

The Team Rector of Ramsbottom and Edenfield, the Revd Andrew Lindop, said: "Had it happened at a time when the building was in use, it would have been an absolute catastrophe. One hole in the roof is 12 ft by 10 ft, and about a third of the roof has been destroyed. There are no details yet of how much it will all cost, but the insurance will cover it. It is just an absolute mess.

"Of course, it's upsetting - but it is not the Church that's been damaged; it is just a building. The whole church family is wanting to look at this as a positive opportunity. We are meeting for prayer to ask: What is the Lord saying to us through this? We have got to be as positive as possible."

The church was likely to be out of use until Christmas at least, he said, and services would probably be held in the school.

A churchwarden, Ian Ashworth, said: "Inside, it looks like a bomb has gone off. It has blown all the electrics and blasted off the lights. Services are going to have to be postponed for months and months."

Ramsbottom's fire crews cordoned off the church, a 19th-century Grade II listed building. The watch manager, Andy Tonge, said the damage was extensive, and included structural damage to the tower.

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