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Repair Costs too hefty so congregation moves to nearby village

Helmdon Baptist Chapel

Final farewells to ailing church

By Daniel Owens - Chronicle reporter

A congregation in Northamptonshire has held its last Sunday service as the village Baptist church has now closed after more than 150 years.

Structural problems have left Baptist church leaders with no alternative but to sell the 19th century building in Helmdon and move services to nearly Weston-by-Weedon.

Experts carried out a survey late last year which revealed the front entrance of the church had suffered major subsidence and that £250,000 was needed to restore the building.

The church now looks likely to be demolished so that the land can be sold for flats or houses.

The former church secretary and deacon, Rosemary Gulliver, said: "The inspectors told us the building had basically broken its back.

"There is no way we can afford the repairs so we are having to move the worship centre to Weston-by-Weedon.

"People are generally more mobile these days and we don't think we will lose anyone because of the move. It is only just down the road and most of us have cars. We should be fine.

"At one stage the church was one of six venues to come under the umbrella of a church organization in the area.

One by one they have all been closed and a planning application will now be lodged to get permission to turn the Helmdon church into a residential site.

The proceeds from the land sale will be ploughed into improving facilities at the new centre in Weston-by-Weedon.

Mrs Gulliver, whose family links with the church go back almost 100 years, said: "It was a tough decision to take, but we are confident we have made the right choice.

"Last weekend saw a lovely remembrance and thanksgiving service to think back to all the good times we have had here and also to look forward to the future.

"It's a time of mixed emotions. We are sad at losing Helmdon but hopefully we will have some good times at Weston-by-Weedon in the years to come.

Northamptonshire Chronicle and Echo - 29th January 2004

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