Victorian Church restored through £220k heritage project funding


09 May 2024

Victorian Church restored through £220k heritage project funding

A distinctive 19th century church has been restored and can be enjoyed by future generations thanks to £220,000 from our Designated Funding scheme.

The Grade I-listed St Anne’s Church in Denton, Manchester, has undergone important improvements to safety and public access, as well as benefited from conservation work thanks to a partnership between ourselves and Historic England.

Caption: Church of St Anne, Denton, Greater Manchester. Credit: Historic England 2024

As a result, the church, which was built in the early 1880s, has now been removed from Historic England’s Heritage at Risk register.

We're investing in the environment and communities surrounding the network, as well as the people travelling and working on it.

Our Project Manager, Betty Wilson, explained: “We’re delighted to be working with St Anne’s Church and Historic England to improve safety and support and preserve Manchester’s heritage.

“In 2021, there were concerns raised by the Diocese of Manchester about the interior brickwork cracking and settlement cracks around the base of the font.

“Unfortunately, the church was becoming unsafe for the large community who use it, including St Anne’s Primary School across the road.

“We’re so pleased we could provide funding to support the restoration of this important building, a piece of the area’s fascinating history.”

Caption: Interior, detail of restored font and mosaic tiles after National Highways work to the south of the church. Featuring Father Jules Mambu next to the font. View from east. Credit: Historic England 2024

Historic England is the Government’s adviser on the historic environment. The organisation, which champions the nation’s heritage, added St Anne’s Church to the Heritage at Risk Register in April 2022 following concern about settlement around the font and central nave walkway due to vibrations from the nearby M67 motorway.

To protect the structure and develop a scheme to make it safe and accessible, we awarded three grants totalling £223,301 for feasibility, design and construction. The money was granted through the Designated Funds Environment and Wellbeing Fund Plan, which includes a Cultural Heritage Fund. This fund aims to ensure the historic environment surrounding our network is considered and protected at every stage.

Historic England has worked alongside ourselves since November 2020 to survey the church, advise on design works and monitor the delivery of the project to restore the church building.

Pictured left to right: Historic England's Peter Barlow, Father Jules Mambu and Betty Wilson.

Between May and September 2023, contractors set to work on the project. The scheme included stabilising the foundations of the ground conditions by injecting a levelling screed, a technique also used to level airport runways. Engineers re-levelled the west end church font and supporting steps and provided joint re-enforcement across various settlement cracks to the masonry walls.

Repairs were also made to the wooden lychgate at the entrance of the churchyard.
Architect Adrian Pearson led the work, with Restoration Projects as the principal contractor. The project has engaged and provided employment to specialist contractors in the region.

Father Jules Mambu said: “National Highways’ grant will have a huge impact for both the Church and the local community. We really appreciate the generosity and the commitment for helping us to achieve our goals.”

Peter Barlow, Architect with Historic England, said: “It’s been a pleasure to work with Father Jules and National Highways to restore this magnificent building.

"St Anne’s is such a landmark both for the local community and for passing travellers. The specialist heritage skills that have been employed here, including the repair of the intricate terracotta tiles and the gilded wall mosaics have produced first class results.”