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
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
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