A historic suit stolen from a church in Bolton on Christmas Eve service is believed to have been dumped in the town.

The theft of the early 19th century coachman’s outfit, known as "The Beadle" from Bolton Parish Chuch, reported sparked a search across the nearby area.

Now, CCTV footage has shown the apparent thief seeming to dump the historic outfit behind an arch on Silverwell Street.

Cllr John Walsh, who has been helping to organise the search, said: “The footage was very kindly provided to us by Fielding Porter Solicitors and it seems to show the person who stole The Beadle dumping it behind an arch around Silverwell Street.

The Bolton News: The historic suit resembles a Dickensian coachmanThe historic suit resembles a Dickensian coachman (Image: Public)

“The police have been informed and have been shown the footage, so I’d ask for anyone who may have seen it around Silverwell Street to please contact me.”

Cllr Walsh can be contacted by phone on 07836 363635.

The Beadle, which resembles a Dickensian coachman with a mannequin and top hat, was taken from the porch at the parish church at around 11.15pm on the night as the congregation attended for the midnight service.

It has long been a popular figure in the church and has been said to "guard" the porch.

Cllr Walsh has previously explained that it is of huge historic interest to the church, though it is "of little value to anyone else".

Police officers have been searching for the stolen Beadle since the theft was reported and have appealed to the public for information.

With the footage supplied by Fielding Porter showing where the mannequin appears to have been left, people have been encouraged to concentrate in particular on the area around Silverwell Street.

A statement from Greater Manchester Police (GMP) Bolton North said: "GMP are appealing for information following a theft of a historic item from a church in Bolton.

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"On Thursday, December 27 Greater Manchester Police were made aware of a theft from Bolton Parish Church which occurred between the hours of 11.10pm and 11.50pm.

"The item is described as being of historical importance and of significant value."

Officers investigating the suspected theft have asked for anyone with any information to call 0161 856 7265 quoting log 2,692 of December 27.