Church Commissioner question on flooding in Blackburn

On Wednesday 13th January  2016 the Second Church Estates Commissioner, the Rt Hon Caroline Spelman, answered two written questions about support from churches in the Blackburn Diocese to flood victims and the damage to churches in the diocese caused by floods.

Mr Mark Hendrick: To ask the right hon. Member for Meriden, representing the Church Commissioners, which Anglican churches within the Diocese of Blackburn were damaged by flooding in December 2015; and what the extent of damage to each such church was.

Caroline SpelmanMrs Caroline Spelman: Within the Diocese of Blackburn seven churches and churchyards, the diocesan retreat house at Whalley Abbey and three Church of England primary schools were damaged by floodwater. Many have also found that the boilers and heating systems have been damaged beyond repair and extensive programmes of works will need to be undertaken to both dry the buildings out and restore or replace furniture, carpets and school materials.

Reports of damage are still being registered across the Dioceses of Blackburn, Carlisle, Manchester, West Yorkshire and the Dales and York. To date 129 church properties have registered substantial damage from the December storms with our insurers, though I expect that figure to rise. The Cathedral and Church Buildings Council of the Church of England will be working with the dioceses to develop robust disaster management and recovery plans and flood adaptation measures for churches and other buildings.

Within the Blackburn Diocese

Parish Name / building Grade or * listing / Status Type of damage
St Michael’s on Wyre Grade 1 Water damage and damage to the boiler
St Michael’s, Much Hoole Grade 2* Water damage and damage to the boiler
St Mary the Virgin, Eccleston Grade 2* Water damage
St Michael & All Angels, Croston Grade 2* Severe water damage
St John the Evangelist, Lancaster (In care of Churches Conservation Trust) Grade 2* Severe water damage
St John the Baptist, Tunstall Grade 1 Damage to the boiler
St Wilfrid’s, Ribchester Grade 1 Damage to the graveyard and loss of many burials and monuments
Whalley Abbey Grade 1 and Scheduled Ancient Monument Major water damage to the Abbey building
Kirkland & Catterall St. Helen’s CofE School


Primary School Severe water damage
St. Michael’s on Wyre C of E School Primary School Major water damage
Whalley CofE School Primary School Basement flooded and water damage


Mr Mark Hendrick: To ask the right hon. Member for Meriden, representing the Church Commissioners, what steps Anglican congregations within the Diocese of Blackburn have taken to help people affected by flooding that took place over Christmas 2015.

Mrs Caroline Spelman: The Diocese of Blackburn has been coordinating with its local Gold Command support centre and with Churches Together. Within Preston the Diocese and local churches have set up an emergency centre at the railway station. An additional emergency centre was also set up in Morecambe alongside smaller centres supported by the Diocese in Ribchester and Walton le Dale. In St Michael’s on Wyre the church has also been offering support to the army who were deployed in the parish.

These centres have been an invaluable support to local communities as a central hub for information and support. In addition local communities have been providing hot food and warm clothing to those who have been flooded out and to relief workers. Churches Together in Lancashire have been coordinating a wider response amongst local denominations and this has enabled many local churches to respond quickly and in those places where their help is most needed.


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