Huddersfield Parish Church and the Forth Road Bridge have something in common.

The upkeep of the structure seems like a never-ending task.

The current scaffolding on St Peter’s Church in the town centre is for the North Wall project, the latest in a series of schemes to protect and renew parts of the historic sandstone building.

The North Wall project, costing £200,000, is part of an ongoing scheme totalling £1 million to improve the fabric of the church, which dates back almost 1,000 years.

The work involves replacing some of the stones and traceries around the windows as well as a number of metal rods holding the stonework in place, which have been eroded by water.

The parapets have also been secured and this phase of the renovation is due to be completed by the end of September.

The next phase will be the renovation of the south wall, the facade looking towards Huddersfield town centre.

So far the work has been funded by English Heritage, but the Parish Church has to match the grant pound for pound with money raised locally.

Now church officials are asking the people of Huddersfield to help them get enough together to finish the North Wall project and make a start on the south wall.

Churchwarden Alan Eastwood said: “We have held a lot of fundraising activities over the last two years and will continue to do so.

Renovation work at Huddersfield Parish Church
Renovation work at Huddersfield Parish Church
 

“But if there are any individuals or local businesses who would like to make a donation towards the project, they will be most gratefully received.

“Clearly with a building of this size and age, keeping its fabric in tiptop condition is an ongoing task.

“We have also had the front steps redone at the entrance and if anybody would like to try them out we worship at 8am and 10am every Sunday, 12.35pm on Wednesday and then on high days and special and civic days.”

FACTFILE

The parish church dates back almost 1,000 years. The first church was built by Walter de Laci, second son of wealthy nobleman Ilbert de Laci, who owned swathes of land in Yorkshire, including the manors of Huddersfield and Almondbury.

The story goes that as Walter was riding from Huddersfield to Halifax, he was thrown from his horse into a swampy marsh. Fearing for his life, he vowed that if he were spared, he would found a church at Huddersfield.

Walter lived to keep his promise and the original church was built around 1090 – 1100. (The Domesday Book of 1085 records no church yet in ‘Odersfelt’.)

The de Lacis fell from favour, and the Manor of Huddersfield passed to Hugh de Laval, who in turn gave the advowson (patronage and tithe rights) to the Augustinian order at Nostell Priory.

The first Vicar of Huddersfield on record was Michael de Wakefield (1216). The full list in the west entrance porch includes Henry Venn (1759-71), a noted member of the Evangelical movement who invited John Wesley to preach here.

During the years 1503 – 6 the church was rebuilt in the Perpendicular style. It had at least two chantry chapels where masses were said for the dead, possibly at some distance from the church. One such chapel is thought to have existed at Bay Hall in Birkby.

By 1830 the town had grown considerably and the fabric of the church was in a poor state. York architect Mr Pritchett, designer of Huddersfield Railway Station, gave an estimate of £2,000 for a simple rebuilding.

However, the project became more ambitious and the cost escalated to £10,000. The new church was consecrated on 27 October 1836. Unfortunately, many of the stones were laid ‘the wrong way round’ and, as a result, have weathered very badly in years since.