Dukinfield church receive cash boost from Heritage Lottery Fund
Tuesday 6th December 2016 06:27 Community Dukinfield News Posted by Adam Higgins

After months of waiting, Old Chapel Unitarians in Dukinfield finally have reason to celebrate after being granted bumper Heritage Lottery Fund support to restore their Grade II* listed chapel.

The chapel, which stands at the top of Chapel Hill on Old Road, has been closed since June 2014 due to ingression of water and dry rot in the roof.

But now, that can be fixed thanks to a £346,800 grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund.

It means the project to restore the roof, water dispersal system, ceiling and masonry at the neo-Gothic, 19th century chapel can now begin.

The grant is a larger award than the Fund would normally distribute because Historic England recognised the need for the work to be completed in one phase.

The project will also include essential restoration work, improved access to the roof space and provision of information boards explaining the chapel’s history and its importance to Dukinfield.

A time-lapse video will be made of the work which will later be available to local history groups in Tameside.

There will be opportunities for volunteers to train as guides to the building. When the work is finished, the plan is to open the chapel for visits from schools and local community groups.

Jennifer Moody, Chapel Warden of Old Chapel said: “We are delighted that the Heritage Lottery Fund have agreed to give us further support.

“We are looking forward to opening the chapel again for our own worship and to provide a venue for weddings and baptism of children from the wider community.

“It will also be great to share the history of our beautiful building better with our visitors.”

The history of the congregation dates back to the late 17th century when a congregation dissenting from the Church of England began meeting together, illegally, in the area.

In 1706 Sir Robert Duckenfield, Lord of the Manor, granted the land on which the present chapel stands to that congregation. A small chapel in meeting house style was built – the first chapel specifically for public worship in Dukinfield.

When the chapel was destroyed in a great storm in 1838, the present, more elaborate building was already being planned by the trustees who included the industrialist John Leech, who was to become the grandfather of Beatrix Potter.

At the laying of the cornerstone on June 26, 1839, in the presence of nearly 2,000 people, a hymn composed by the Rev William Gaskell, minister of Cross Street Chapel, Manchester, and husband of the novelist Elizabeth Gaskell, was sung.

The chapel was opened in 1840 and with the addition of the west front, in 1893, it became an outstanding building in Dukinfield.

 

By Tom Greggan