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Catholic church's heritage funds bid

PUBLISHED: 18:14 28 January 2010 | UPDATED: 16:28 30 June 2010

Government heritage experts surveying a church as part of its bid for restoration funding had their ladder stolen by brazen thieves in Great Yarmouth.

Having taken a close look at St Mary's Catholic Church in Regent Road architects and church supporters watched open-mouthed as their ladder disappeared on the back of a lorry moments after they had finished using.

Government heritage experts surveying a church as part of its bid for restoration funding had their ladder stolen by brazen thieves in Great Yarmouth.

Having taken a close look at St Mary's Catholic Church in Regent Road architects and church supporters watched open-mouthed as their ladder disappeared on the back of a lorry moments after they had finished using.

St Mary's - one of the country's oldest Catholic churches - is hoping for a handout to help it achieve a raft of repairs and improvements. Well known for its position at the heart of Great Yarmouth's holiday hub in Regent Road - it is its role as focus for a diverse community that could win over funders.

Completed in 1850 at a cost of £10,000 St Mary's needs at least twenty times that spending on basic repairs, the years of wind and salt blasting so close to the North Sea having taken their toll.

Brian Iles, chairman of the finance committee, said phase one to repair the tower and surround to the west window where water had got behind the flints and lifted them would cost around £200,000 but that that was only the start.

“It is quite a well known building in so far as there are very few Catholic churches in this country that have any age. They were mostly built in the 1950s, this one is 150 years old and designed by a famous architect. It is a very attractive building but over the years it has just been patched up and it has got itself into quite a state. We have applied for a grant to English Heritage and they are going through the figures. One of the senior people was there with our architect.

“It is going to happen over several years and cost several hundreds of thousands of pounds. Yarmouth has had a lot of money spent on it and this is equally an attractive building.

“English Heritage were interested in the fact that it has a diverse community serving the Portuguese and Polish and many others who have come over here to work.”

Mr Iles added: “They seemed very enthusiastic about the building and the fact that we have a broad-based community - but at the end of the day it will be down to the funding available.”

He said that Great Yarmouth had had a lot of money spent on it and that St Mary's was equally as deserving as many of the other projects - notably St Georges Chapel - that were under regeneration.


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