MAJOR refurbishment work has started at a 200-year-old church in the Ribble Valley after five years of fund-raising.

Work has begun on the interior of Trinity Methodist Church in Clitheroe with the aim of ‘bringing it into the 20th century’.

Services have been moved into the church hall behind the traditional Wesleyan chapel.

The church is expected to be closed for at least six months while the revamp, which will cost around £400,000, is completed.

The Rev Harry Jones, who is in pastoral charge of the Parson Lane church while Rev Ian Humphreys is on a three-month sabbatical, said the work will have a ‘huge impact’ on the old building.

He said: “The work is aimed at bringing the building more into the community and we hope that more people will use it as a church but also as a community centre.

“One of the main changes will be the removal of the fixed pews so more comfortable mobile seating can be installed instead.

“The work will bring the church right up to date and will make the church more multi-purpose.

“The congregation have been amazing at helping to get this project going.”

Alan Yearing, who has been attending the church since 1986, said: “The congregation have been fund-raising for years.

“The work will also help the church be more energy efficient and help to bring our bills down.

“I hope that it will make the church more community friendly.

“The project could take six months but it could take more and it all depends on the builders.”

Builders W Monks of Longridge are carrying out the work which has been paid for by a combination of congregation fund-raising and grants.

The second phase of the work will see improvements to the school room at the back of the church.