Revamp for Sawley St Mary's tin-hut church

Image caption The tin-hut building was originally 'on-loan' to Sawley

Parishoners who use a tin-hut church, the last of its kind in the Diocese of Derby, are aiming to raise £100,000 to bring it up to scratch.

St Mary's, in Sawley, was originally a gift from the parish of Heanor and celebrates its centenary in 2012.

It is hoped a refurbishment will see the church brought into use every day, rather than only for Sunday worship.

Improvements include central heating, new kitchen, toilets and car park and the restoration of the church's bell.

The Reverend Alicia Petty said: "It was the custom, at the begining of the 20th Century, for churches to set up little tin hut buildings and they were sometimes used for youth clubs or Sunday school or even to establish a mission church, which is what ours was here for.

"The idea was that they would be replaced eventually with brick buildings.

"Somewhere along the line that plan fell to dust here."

Bell tower

Image caption Parishoners have already raised £35,000 towards the cost of the refit

Although the tin-hut tabernacle is still in weekly use, the long-term plan is to make the building usable by the wider community.

It is also hoped the church's now silent bell could soon be heard again.

Ms Petty said: "The bell used to be on a wooden frame and there was a very grim moment when it fell through the roof into the vestry and nearly hit somebody on the way down."

She said the "offending ironwork" is now in storage and the plan is to build a steel tower to house it in the future.

The corrugated church also features a stained glass window depicting Jesus, Joseph and Mary.

Already the congregation has raised £35,000 while awaiting final planning permission for the changes.

St Mary's supporters are not, though, just collecting cash.

They want also to collect and preserve stories of their tin church throughout its 100 years.

Ms Petty as also hopeful that the refurbishment will give the church a new sense of identity: "What I'm really after is that people will drive down Wilsthorpe Road and go 'oh, that's St Mary's' - rather than thinking it's a scout hut," she said.

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