Ashton church earmarked for closure

THE RACE is on to save an Ashton-under-Lyne church after it was earmarked for closure.

And the public will be consulted on what happens to St James’, on Cowper Street.

The Manchester diocese of the Church of England admits it has made the decision to propose the doors close for good and it be mothballed, with a date of April 28 suggested, after exploring all options.

But local councillors have already asked Bishop David Walker to reconsider the call.

St James the Apostle was founded in 1863 by the Rev Thomas Baker Dixon, curate of Christ Church, in an iron warehouse on Cowhill Lane.

The race is on to save an Ashton-under-Lyne church after it was earmarked for closure.

Land for a new church was given by the Earl of Stamford and the cost of building was met by Oldham Whittaker, a local millowner, with it being consecrated on December 28, 1865.

However, the public will now be consulted on what happens to the building, which is part of the Parish of the Good Shepherd, along with St Gabriel’s, St Peter’s Holy Trinity and Ashton’s parish church, St Michael and All Angels.

When approached by The Correspondent over St James’ future, the Diocese of Manchester responded: “The diocese has been working alongside the Parochial Church Council (PCC) of the Parish of the Good Shepherd, Ashton-under-Lyne to consider the future of St James’ Church.

“We have explored all options during the last 18 months and, following these discussions, the PCC has proposed that St James’ should close.

“Over the coming months, there will be an open, transparent, and independent public consultation to allow all interested parties to meet with our team and understand how the decisions have been made.

“This is a sensitive time for all involved and our main focus is on supporting our clergy, leaders, volunteers and congregation at St James’ and the four other churches in the Parish of the Good Shepherd.”

News that St James’ is under threat has been met with sadness by local councillors Jean Drennan, Bill Fairfoull and Andrew McLaren.

They have already made their feelings clear to Bishop Walker, saying: “St James’ Church is not only a place of worship, but an important community asset.

“It is situated in area of high deprivation and is attached to a local infant and primary school where 19 languages are spoken when children enter reception.

“The school remains focused on its Christian values and this is an integral part of the children’s learning. It can’t be underestimated the role the church plays in partnership with the school to community cohesion.

“I also understand that the vestry attached to the church will be utilised by the locally appointed clergy and there are no plans for this accommodation to be sold.

“St James’ Church is a Grade II-listed building and with its twin spires is a famous landmark of the Tameside skyline.

“During our annual heritage weekends, St James’ opens its doors and attracts many visitors from neighbouring boroughs.

“Despite its age, the church is in a good condition and the recent building report suggested repairs of a minor nature.

“The church acts as a community hub from scout groups to local education classes. The loss of this asset will have a large impact to the community it serves.

“It will leave a school without a place of worship, the community without a space to meet and if left mothballed will inevitably attract anti-social behaviour and vandalism in already a challenging area.

“This issue alone would incur security costs if church is left empty.”

8 Replies to “Ashton church earmarked for closure”

  1. St James church has a lot of local history within it, particularly, plaques and stained glass windows, commemorating soldiers from the parish, who died in WW1. Which include Henry Bradbury, a great uncle, who the family are proud of.
    These treasures should not be lost to the dust & decay, but preserved and displayed for future generations to honour.

  2. St James the apostle church on Cowper street is a unique and beautiful church which is in the heart of a diverse and disadvantaged neighbourhood. The claim is that the congregation is dwindling. Not so on the many occasions that I have attended when the church is full. The past is important and the wealth of history and heritage speaks for itself. I like the present though because that’s where the opportunities are. Parents and children attending the church and the local school are in no doubt about the value of St James. Let’s hope the diocese see the value and not just the cost of keeping such a special place open .

  3. This is a well used church and would be devastating for the community , will be a sad day if it closes .

    1. This is a good proposal but can’t be instead of their service if they still have one every Sunday. It is a beautiful church and it would be very sad if it was left empty.

  4. Need to save this beautiful church, there’s not much left in Ashton as it is. Like a ghost town.
    Leave it as it is a very welcoming church.

  5. As a past vicar of St. James it makes me very sad to hear this church may be closing its doors for good. It was an effort to build up the congregation and make it financially sound. When I left I thought it would last. This church is important to the community in many ways and it will leave a huge void were it to go.

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