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.
Mrs 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.