Work finally begins at blaze hit church

By Kevin Unitt 17/05 Updated: 17/05 08:24

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Buy photos » The Rev Martin Green pictured after the church was destroyed in 2008. 12.08.039.nc

WORK is finally under way to restore an historic Radford Semele church destroyed by fire four years ago.

A blaze, believed to have been caused by arsonists, ripped through St Nicholas Church – parts of which dated back to the 11th century – in March 2008. Some 50 firefighters fought the fire but before it was put out it had already spread to the Southam Road church's 15th century bell tower.

For years the gutted church was left covered in a white sheeting but work has finally now began to restore it after insurers agreed to pay a large part of the £2.5 million re-build costs.

A host of fund-raising drives have helped raise an extra £90,000 needed to install toilets, a kitchen and an office as well as facilities for wider community use.

Rev Martin Green said: “At last we have some good news! We are so grateful that we can now go ahead confidently.

"We are not out of the woods yet, but we have enough to start the building - which is great news and very exciting to see the progress.

“So far they have levelled the floors, revealing some of the medieval church walls and even a brick coal chute, and the team have also been making swift progress on the tower and discovered some interesting carvings on the outside which they think must have been done after the tower was constructed.

“It is all very interesting and archaeologists have been working alongside them.”

Further fund-raising events in aid of the church include a 'Gnome Olympics' in the village on July 14, in which people can sponsor gnomes in a series of fun events such as cycling, swimming, football and gymnastics.

Local people are also being asked to donate specific items to the new church, such as chairs in memory of a loved one or flowers stands or kitchen fittings.

Visit www.stnicholasrestoration.com or call Martin Green on 01926 613466 for more information on the church and ways to support it.

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Buy photos» Work under way inside the destroyed church to level the floor area. (s)

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Buy photos» At the top of the damaged tower some worn medieval carvings have been found in the stone. (s)

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