A community have been left shocked and upset after the stone pinnacles from a church gate were stolen on the weekend of the church's 180th anniversary.

St Stephen and All Martyrs on Radcliffe Road, Darcy Lever, first opened for worship on February 18, 1844, and member of the Parochial Church Council, Lee Trengrove, says the special event was being put together a couple of months prior.

While people were still able to mark the occasion, Lee says that the vandalism has caused a lot of upset in the community and left him shocked.

He said: “I have been looking after it over the years, and to get to 180 years and find it’s been desecrated has caused a lot of upset for quite a few people.

The Bolton News: Before and after the vandalismBefore and after the vandalism (Image: Public)Read our top stories below:

“You can replace them with modern materials, but they are historical monuments and have been there all this time.

“I have been helping look after it over the years, and the fact they have been stolen makes me feel shocked and upset that it’s happened on the weekend we celebrated 180 years.”

In the past the grade II listed building has had extensive work to help maintain and restore the church including, removing dry-rot, re-roofing, redecorating, new heating system, and more.  

Lee said: “The material it is made of is really high maintenance.

The Bolton News: The church with the stone pinnacles The church with the stone pinnacles (Image: Public)“It was almost knocked down in 1991, but the community rallied round held several fundraising events.

“They found all the original stencils on the walls and tried to restore it to the original.

“We regularly have fabric fundraising events.”

Celebrations took place on Sunday February 18, and events are continuing throughout the year, up until February next year.

The event was well attended, and led by Reverend Roy Iddon, who was the vicar 25 years ago, led the service.

Lee added: “We advertised to get as many as we could to get down.

“Due to Covid quite a lot of people stopped coming, so we were trying to get everybody to come back.

The Bolton News: “It’s quite remarkable to celebrate 180 years because it’s been a long journey trying to keep it open.”

Lee says that conversations are ongoing to decide what happens next, and how they can be replaced and funded.

The church has a small fabric fund for repairs but not to replace parts such as this.

The incident has been reported to the police, and no arrests have been made at this time.

A spokesperson for Greater Manchester said: “Police were called to reports of a theft on Radcliffe Road at around 5.40pm on Sunday, February 18.

“No arrests made as of yet.”

The church was consecrated in 1845, where it became part of Chester Diocese and then Manchester Diocese thereafter.

The Bolton News:

The church is still undertaking long-term phased restoration work funded mainly by English Heritage /Heritage Lottery Fund repair grants, and local fundraising.

Most recently, the west window had some of the original stained glass from the tower installed inside the newer plain glass window (it was taken out when the lower tower was removed).

Tonge Moor Cllr Emily Mort said: “We are so lucky in Tonge to have so much of Bolton’s history and heritage in the ward.

“We want to do whatever we can to support the community and the organisations who are doing everything they can.

“It’s disgusting to see people taking what is not theirs, and people should think about what they are doing.”

If you have a story and something you would like to highlight in the community, please email me at jasmine.jackson@newsquest.co.uk or DM me on Twitter @JournoJasmine.