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History & Buildings

The Parish of Leesfield was constituted in 1846, whilst St Thomas' Church was in the process of being built, and grew to include the new Mission Churches of St James' Park Bridge, St Agnes' Knolls Lane and St Matthew Roundthorn by 1878. The Worship Centre in St Hugh's school was a much later addition in 1956. 


The book "People and Places" was written by Rev'd Howard Smith and launched in 1998 to coincide with the 150th Anniversary celebrations of St. Thomas' Leesfield Church. Copies are still available on our bookstall.

It chronicles the history of the Churches, day and Sunday schools which have been part of the wide and diverse Parish of Leesfield from its inception to 1998, against a backdrop of historic events of the time. Also included are details of the people involved in parish life over the period, from vicars, curates and churchwardens to school headteachers.

"People and Places", together with two small pamphlets about the Church Trail and the Boundary Walk, provided the inspiration and much of the research for later parish publications. Perhaps for the 200th Anniversary of St Thomas' Church in 2048 someone new will come along and write a further book, building on this and bringing the story of Leesfield Parish up to date.


St Thomas' Leesfield Church

In 1844 a small group started to meet at Leesfield House for the purpose of responding to the spiritual needs of the expanding population. At the first meeting on March 4th 1844 it was decided to build a church at Leesfield and Mr George Taylor gave the site in lieu of his subscription of £100. This church was St Thomas Leesfield and the site was known as ‘Bonfire Half Acre’ with the chancel of the church being built on ‘Mischief Plot’.

The design of the church by architect Mr Shellard was perpendicular Gothic, with a hammer beam roof lit by dormer windows and stained open wood tracery, and involved the use of many ancient looking figure heads both inside and outside the building. The Church is built of coursed stone with ashlar surrounds to openings, quoins, parapets etc.  There is a bell tower at the west with a slate covered roof, the nave roof is of slate and has a double pitched aisle on both sides. 

The beauty of St Thomas Leesfield is evident as soon as you walk in, with a seating capacity of 600. It has numerous stained glass windows, several of which are by the renowned Belgian stained glass artist, Jean Baptiste Capronnier. The stone font with beautiful carved wood is situated at the rear of the church. 

The foundation stone was laid on October 9th 1844 by the Chancellor of the Diocese of Chester in the presence of the Bishop of Chester along with supporters of the project.

On the feast of St Michael and All Angels September 29th 1846 the Parish of Leesfield was constituted with Canon Robert Whittaker as incumbent, but with services continuing at Leesfield House along with a new Sunday School until the church was ready.

In 1847 the new Diocese of Manchester was formed from Chester and in 1848 Manchester’s first bishop consecrated the church of St Thomas the Apostle, Leesfield on June 21st, along with the surrounding burial ground.

Baptisms, marriages and all services followed the Book of Common Prayer. The organ was installed in the west gallery in 1860 followed by the clock and installation in the tower of a full peal of 8 bells. The tower bells were first rung and the clock started on Whit Friday May 25th 1866.


In 2016, to mark the 150th Anniversary of the bells and clock, Tower Captain Brian Hayes published a book entitled “Song of the Bells”. The book details the history of bell-ringing (including hand-bell ringing) in the parish, together with information about how the funds were raised for the installation of the bells and clock, and for the hand-bells.

The Anniversary was celebrated in fine style with the book launch, readings of excerpts and poems and handbell ringing by the Moorside Handbell Ringers and a buffet. Immediately prior to the event, ringers from Leesfield and friends from other towers rang a quarter peal of Plain Bob Triples. You can listen to a part of this by clicking on the following link - 150th Anniversary Plain Bob Triples

There was also urgent need for a parish day school and a larger space for Sunday School which was agreed and the foundation stone for the original school building was laid on Whit Friday June 2nd 1880.

The Church is grade II* listed, and has been successful in gaining grant assistance for two phases of repair work from English Heritage.  This has enabled the nave, aisles, vestry and south porch to be restored; the most recent renovation being between 1995 and 2004 with the work totalling around £1 million.

Over many years there had been a great deal of discussion about the need for toilet facilities at St Thomas', but there had always been more pressing items such as boiler replacement and lead theft to be dealt with (and paid for). In 2012 a committee was formed to explore the possibility of providing a new Community Room with accessible w.c. and kitchen facilities, and eventually in 2016 after substantial fundraising these facilities were opened. There is more detail of the development project later on this page.

The new Community Room and facilities have made a huge difference to our Church. 

As well as providing a warm and comfortable place for our own groups to meet, we are now able to welcome visitors from the wider community to join us at events or to host their own events here.

The Church is now open to the public every Tuesday and Saturday morning from 10.30 am to 1 pm in addition to our service times and events, and we participate in the Heritage Open Days scheme each September.

To help visitors to explore our Church a Heritage Guide is available on our bookstall. This provides not just information about the history of the building and its architecture, but also explanations of the religious significance of many of the features.



St Agnes' Church Knolls Lane

Sunday School at Knolls Lane began at a cottage at High Knolls in 1868, but a permanent base was needed and the foundation stone for a Sunday School and day school was laid down by Miss Agnes Whittaker on May 21st 1869.

The Day school was opened on the 20th June 1870, beginning with just 22 children, in the nave of the present church. For 4d (that's old pennies) per week children could receive an education in Reading, writing, arithmetic, grammar, geography and history.

By 1880 another building, which is now the school hall, was built for the school, and a chancel built onto the first building to make it into a church. The completed church was opened and dedicated to St Agnes for public worship by the second Bishop of Manchester on November 27th 1880.

In 1882 it is recorded that gas lighting replaced candle-light.


St Hugh's Worship Centre, Holts

Following the development of new housing at Holts Estate, using the Henshaw Trust which was responsible for the church schools of Oldham Borough, a Church of England Aided School was built. This also acted as a worship centre through a sanctuary built on to the hall.

On December 8th 1956 the Lord Bishop of Manchester opened the school and dedicated the sanctuary to St Hugh.

In 1965 Leesfield got a curate whose main priority and responsibility was to create a daughter church with a council and life of its own and weekly communion.

When the school was reduced in size in 2002 many alterations were made and the Worship Centre was moved to its current place in the School Hall.


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The Loo at St Thomas' Appeal

In July 2016 the work to form a new Community Room with kitchen facilities and accessible WC was completed and we are now very much open for business. Our thanks to donors and details of the progress are recorded below.




On a December day in 2012, in a cold, unwelcoming room the LAST project was hatched and despatched – to make its headway in a challenging world.

With such an important (Grade 2* listed) but ageing building most major fund-raising  in the past had been to keep the church going in the face of wet rot, dry rot, lead thefts, leaks, and repairs to the fabric and fittings. In the Rev Howard Smith’s time there was a huge and successful effort to repair the roof and re-paint the church; new carpets and cushions made it more comfortable but these moves were more about maintaining what we had rather than developing it. 168 years after the church was built there was still no toilet.

Launched by Rev Edith Disley, who called together parishioners and others to explore the possibility of bringing such an improvement to fruition, a Development Group under Jenny Daubney’s Chairmanship was formed - able to tap into new resources, new ideas and new enthusiasms. The highest priority was to install Barrier Free toilet facilities but there was a clear need for a room in church which was warm all year round not just from June to September. We also agreed that whatever we did should look good and be in keeping with our lovely building.

Whilst the need was obvious to the church community most grants were conditional on establishing a need in the wider community. We were helped in this by work around that time completed by the Lees Community Association which had shown a demand for a community room and this was confirmed by the surveys which we ourselves completed in the pre-planning phase. We took soundings from various interested parties in the local community and showing us what was really important to the whole village as well as the regular church users helped shape our thinking. Those views were drawn together by the Development Group and a plan formulated.

The firm of architects Lloyd Evans Prichard we chose knew the church well (having been our church architects for several years). The initial plans which we approved had an estimated price-tag of a huge £165,000.

Our own fund-raising in 2013 got off to a good start with encouraging grants from our local councillors and Saddleworth & Lees District Partnership, together with some great ideas for church and community events and our funds grew. However, when we were unsuccessful in applications for some of the larger grants we considered what we really needed and what was achievable. The plans were amended and the costing was then pared back to a more realistic £60,000. We presented the slim-line version of the plans to the congregation after a church service in December 2014. From that we had a great boost with offers of help (practical and financial), which encouraged us enormously, together with a grant of £5,000 from a Charitable Trust.

Donations continued to flood in from our parishioners who pledged massive sums of money, and in June 2015 we were successful in obtaining grant funding of £10,000 from National Churches Trust. This took our total funding to above half of our revised total cost, thus enabling us to gain further funding from All Churches Trust, Garfield Weston Foundation, Manchester Guardian Society and the Duchy of Lancaster. They lifted our spirits as well as our Bank Balance!

At that stage, we hadn’t enough to complete the project but we were prepared to secure what we could (if necessary in a Phase 1). Events moved on apace – as part of the preparation for the main work we installed bespoke cupboards in the room under the tower to give us vital storage space and then by December 2015 with Architect Rebecca Gilbert- Rule we were able to appoint the Contractors: Lichfield Construction.

Throughout we had brilliant support from the congregation and beyond with people working hard but often putting the fun into Fund raising efforts: with a Vintage Tea Party Teddy parachute drop, Big Band Night, socials; Parish Boundary Walks; Queen’s Birthday Party and more. On the road to completion we had donations of Carpet, fitted kitchen units, tiles, fridge, cooker, microwave, and, as well as practical help clearing out the old furniture, time and professional skills which were donated and saved considerable sums. The back page of this leaflet reflects the impressive range of support we received.

What the congregation and our visitors will see on 3rd July is a splendid Barrier Free Toilet, a warm and welcoming Community Room, a well-equipped Kitchen, additional storage under the tower, an attractive screen with Glazed Oak Doors and an excellent view of the church, plus space outside the room which together brilliantly enhance and enlarge the useable area at the back of the church. Within the Church Community we can now welcome or welcome back a number who cannot access church services without these facilities. We have a pleasant separately heated room for small gatherings linked to Funerals and Baptisms. Toilet apart, the biggest boon was seen by many who help in the church as HOT! RUNNING! WATER!  Beyond the church:  a room for community events with overflow if needed into the church beyond the Narthex. Room for activities like Cubs, Brownies, Senior Citizen groups with a social or health focus; Study area for use by school.  The development has enabled us to look at new plans and possibilities for the future: Opening for National Heritage Week with an up-dated and revised Church Heritage Trail; Visits from linked schools as part of the Community Cohesion AgendaConcerts; Coffee Morningsa Lees and District Choral Speaking Festival and much more.

A huge vote of thanks must go to the many, many supporters of the project, within and beyond the church, who gave their time, their skills and their own resources to enable this major project to come to fruition.  If we have faced difficulties and delays we have been hugely blessed in the encouragement we have received along the way. 



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THE UPDATES AS WE WENT ALONG!!

Background

For many years and at several P.C.C. meetings the need for toilet facilities at St. Thomas’ Church has been discussed. Our idea at the time was for a toilet to be installed in the area situated under the Church tower, but the detail had not been fully investigated, although the Social Committee at the time had begun to raise funds towards this.

Church groups such as P.C.C. meetings and Mothers’ Union meetings had taken place in the school as the area at the West End of the Church was often too cold for these meetings to take place. Any congregation members needing toilet facilities before, during and after Church services they had to be escorted across the road to school, and this presented particular difficulties for visitors travelling from afar to attend funerals taking place on school days.

Following the appointment of Revd. Edith Disley in September 2012, the P.C.C.  made the decision to look much more seriously into the provision of facilities at the West End of Church, and the Development Group was formed.

The Development Group

The Development Group was formed in 2012 with Jenny Daubney as Chair and Mel Farrar as Secretary, with a brief to move forward with plans to provide a Community Room with accessible W.C. and kitchen facilities in the area below the balcony at the West End of Church.

Everyone in the group has played a significant part in the process, with sub-groups involved in consultation and planning fundraising events.  A smaller working group consisting of Jenny, Mel, Edith, Roy, Liz and later Lesley was formed to liaise with our architect, the Diocese and others to further the project. An even smaller group of Jenny, Mel and Liz worked on funding applications, and Val Sedgwick, our local councillor, has been of immense help to us.

Planning and Design

After consulting widely around our congregations and the wider community, the need for a community room and suitable facilities to be situated in the area below the balcony was established. The first plans produced by the Church Architect, Lloyd Evans Prichard, whilst being extremely attractive, proved to be financially unviable. Further plans were produced in 2015, which were considered to be more within our means.

As St. Thomas’ Church is a Grade 11* Listed Building we had to consult with Historic England (formerly English Heritage) and The Victorian Society in addition to Oldham Council Planning Department before obtaining a Faculty from the Diocese of Manchester giving permission for the work to be undertaken.

Fundraising

Early attempts to raise large amounts of external funding proved unsuccessful, and we had to re-think our plans for the work. The Fundraising Thermometer on the sidebar measures our progress towards our target, and the attached table shows the sources of funding. We have received substantial grants from local and national external funders, and have also raised a great deal of money from our own parishioners and friends. Many exciting and fun events have been held, and our new Fundraising Committee has hosted several of these. There have also been generous donations from individuals too numerous to mention.

Thank you to all who have supported us in our efforts so far. We now have sufficient funding to complete the major part of the work, but still need more money for the final touches such as tiling, decoration and floor coverings.

Where we are now – February 2016

A local Contractor has now been appointed. The work is expected to commence in mid-April this year and will take around 6-8 weeks to complete. Most of the area to be improved has now been cleared, with the kind assistance of many volunteers. We have had a kind offer of a kitchen from Emmanuel Whittaker & Sons, and there are volunteers to help with decorating etc. when the building work has been done to help keep the costs down.


Updates will be provided, and further information can be obtained from Jenny Daubney, Chair of the Development Group, by e-mail to r.daubney2@ntlworld.com





Only a brief report this month but a very important one nonetheless, as it gives the news we have long waited to hear. 

Following the receipt of tenders and discussions with our architects (Lloyd Pritchard Evans) led by Rebecca Gilbert-Rule we have now agreed the building company to take the work forward and met with them to plan the work schedule. All being well contracts with this (local) firm will be exchanged during February and we are looking forward to a start in early April.

The best news is that the agreed price is within our budget and the success of our fund-raising efforts over the last three years means that, when all the outstanding funds are in, we no longer face the prospect of disruption to Church over two phases. We see a separate heating system for the Community Room as vital and can now look to include that in the one project. Fundraising will need to continue to provide for the “finishing touches” such as carpets, kitchen equipment,         decoration and furniture, but we are happy that we have sufficient funds to    complete the major works.
With the installation of the new cupboards under the tower before Christmas we were able to use them to good effect in January to store those things considered essential. A further major move taking forward the preparatory work saw a ‘skip’ and a good number of volunteers hard at work on Saturday 16th January clearing as much as possible of the Narthex area ready for the work to begin. The effort was substantial and the co-ordination was brilliant in that the collection was    arranged for 1.00 p.m. and everything was loaded and taken away well before 2.00 p.m. leaving West Street clear. The Development Group are really grateful to all who took part and/or facilitated this - not forgetting all those who supported the fund-raising efforts just before and since Christmas.. Special thanks go to   Eugene Connell from D & M Demolition and Recycling, who swiftly and efficiently cleared all the rubbish for us free of charge.

Though we will miss what was always an uncertain Easter completion date (which Edith appreciates) with the planned  6-8 weeks the project is expected to need,  we may have to suffer some disruption during Whitsuntide but recognising that Whit Sunday on 15th May is a big occasion will ask the company to try to minimise that. However, we should be all ready for Confirmation Sunday 24th July when Bishop Mark will be joining us.

To those who have faced disappointment in the past when previous attempts to build a toilet fell by the wayside we can say, “Thanks for bearing with us and    giving your support. We said it would happen this time around and now it is    happening!”                       

Mel Farrar  - Secretary to the Development Group



The work has started!!!

By the time you read this item you should see a great deal of progress with the work to transform the area below the balcony into a Community Room with accessible W.C. and kitchen, and an independent heating system which will enable the new facilities to be used without having to heat the whole church building.

The anticipated cost of the main work, including architect’s fees, is expected to be in the region of £55,000. This excludes V.A.T., which should be recoverable under the Listed Places of Worship grant scheme. Also included in the figure is a contingency sum of around £5,500. This is to provide for the cost of any extra work which could not be foreseen before the contract was signed. Already additional work has been identified following the discovery of dry rot in some of the old floorboards and joists, and we expect that the contingency sum will need to be fully utilised.

The table shown above is the total amount raised up to the 5th April, and will just cover the cost of the main building work. Many thanks to all those who have given so generously and worked tirelessly to raise this tremendous amount. There is, however, much more to be done to complete the project, which will require further funding. 

Emmanuel Whittaker & Sons have generously agreed to donate and fit kitchen units, and we have had kind offers of volunteers to undertake the decorating and tiling. We will still need to raise money for carpeting the Community Room, decorating and tiling materials, kitchen equipment and furnishing.
Fundraising events will continue this year, including the Queen’s 90th Birthday event on the 11th June, the Big Band Gala Night on the 2nd July and the Sponsored Boundary Walk in September, which will go some way to meeting these costs, but further donations from individuals will help us to finish off our lovely new facilities.

Envelopes are available for your donations, which can be gift-aided if you are a taxpayer, or you can donate on-line by going to https://mydonate.bt.com/events/stthomasdevfund/250680

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MAY 2016 UPDATE

The LAST Project

Watch this Space!
Whether you see that as an invitation or an injunction it’s probably the best advice for those wanting to see the LAST project come to fruition since the work on the ground will move much more quickly than editions of Voice can report on.

As this article is penned the main outside work on the drains has been completed - over the school holidays as it involved digging up some of the playground - and before it goes to press it is likely that the indoor work will have started and be well under way. Certainly the Narthex* area under the balcony has been cleared, and the workmen from Lichfield Construction (a Grasscroft - based company) will soon be in evidence there.

Please bear with us and them as they take the plans forward – I am sure it will be worth it and worth the wait.
Mel Farrar

Post Script: Narthex: a layman’s view

Never having come across the  word Narthex before I became involved in this project (and not finding it in the Shorter Oxford Dictionary) I went on Wikipedia to find out what exactly it means. That was not as straightforward as I imagined
One definition gives it as: An ante-chamber, porch or distinct area at the western entrance of some early Christian Churches, separated off by a   railing; an ante-chamber or large porch in a modern church.

Though it could be outside, traditionally the Narthex which spanned (i.e. went right across) the church, was located at the West end of the building opposite the altar. A part of the church building but it was not, in early churches, considered part of the church proper as its original purpose was to allow those not eligible for admission into the general congregation to hear and partake in the service.  Later reforms removed the requirement to exclude people from services who were not full members of the              congregation

which in some traditions obviated the need for a Narthex though architects continued to build them. When we speak of the ‘porch’ in our church we think of the South Entrance nowadays which takes people directly into the Nave, but the idea of the Narthex suggests that the entrance was intended to be via the door at  the West end of church.  Though there are no plans to resurrect the West Door as the main entrance (having said which we do want to make it less draughty!) the new plans do particularly enhance the Narthex area under the balcony and its use as a community room would seem entirely fitting

Mel Farrar
 Secretary to the Development Group 


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JUNE 2016 UPDATE

The LAST Project
Wow!

Since our last LAST article things really have moved on apace. Those who get to church regularly will see how dramatic has been the progress on this project week by week:  as the back pews were taken out, the floors were taken up and re-laid, the old screen was taken down, the new walls were put up, the Toilet, the Store Room, the Services Cupboard, the Kitchen, and the Community Room took shape. Those who can’t get every week will be even more impressed with the progress to date and the clear shape of things to come.

Over the last month the Development Team have had weekly Site Meetings with Rebecca Gilbert-Rule, the Architect from Lloyd Evans Prichard, to see and discuss progress and the questions which arise as the work goes on. (Like will it look all right for the long planned wedding on May 7th and will we be able to host the United Whit Sunday Service on 15th?  The contractors played their part but the church team also worked extremely hard to ensure that the church looked really well and building-wise both events went off without a hitch.)

From this morning (19th May) we saw the heating system had been laid - with pipes and points for the radiators, the electrics were in, awaiting the plug  sockets, the walls had been plastered, the floor coverings in the Toilet and Kitchen had been put down. Within the next couple of days we expect the Kitchen fittings (kindly donated by Emannuel Whitaker) to arrive and be fitted.

One big job this week has been to strip back the long old panelling from where the pews were – thought to be the original – so that it can be incorporated into the new design, lightened to fit in, and used to front the new walls facing the church. Fortunately we have a very skilled man working on this who is having to take off years of stain, paint, varnish to bring it from very dark to its original natural light colour.

By the time you read the June edition of Voice we expect that further progress will be visible. The Contractors work is expected to be ready for handover on or around the 8th June, and we will then be ready for work to start on the final touches such as tiling and decorating by our volunteers.

Further fundraising will be needed for the finishing touches. We have the Queen’s Birthday event on the 11th June, the Big Band Gala Night on the 2nd July and the Parish Boundary Walk in September and we hope that these will be well-supported. Donations to the Development Fund will also be gratefully received.

Though we have had our share of set-backs along the way and the project has seemed a long time coming the last few weeks have been a really exciting and rewarding time with the whole church and indeed the local community on-side and willing the work forwards with great encouragement, magnificent financial and tremendous practical help.

The Development Team are sure that the project is one of which everyone will be very proud!

Mel Farrar,  Secretary to the Development Group.  


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JULY 2016 UPDATE

The LAST Project
We’ve arrived!
(Well nearly!*)

This edition of Voice will precede the gathering on Sunday 3rd July 2016 to celebrate the completion of the building works of the last three months which have transformed the Narthex Area and the back of our lovely  church.

It hasn’t been an easy road travelled over the past four years but, though previous attempts to improve the church have not always run their course, this time it has happened (as we said it would!)  A huge vote of thanks must go to the many, many supporters of the project, within and beyond the church,  who have given their time, their skills and their own resources to enable this major project to come to fruition. 

If we have faced difficulties and delays we have been hugely blessed in the encouragement we have  received along the way. What the congregation and our visitors will see on 3rd July is a splendid Barrier Free Toilet, a warm and welcoming Community Room a well-equipped Kitchen, an attractive screen with Partially Glazed Oak Doors and space outside the room which together brilliantly enhance and enlarge the useable area at the back of the church. With this development there is so much more the church can do to build the service to its people and extend its work into the wider              community. Certainly something worth celebrating!

With such an important (Grade 2* listed) but ageing building most big     fund-raising  in the past has been to keep the church afloat in the face of wet rot, dry rot, lead thefts, leaks, repairs to the fabric (roof, stonework) and the fittings (like the organ), and this has been a full-time job and more in its own right. In Howard’s time (1993-2004) there was a huge and          successful effort to repair the roof and re-paint the church; new carpets, kneelers and cushions were added to make it more comfortable but these moves  were more about maintaining what we had rather than developing it.

So it was important to have a separate Development Group which could focus on the one project and see that through. The other pressures on Church funds have not gone away during the last four years (lead was   stolen last year, the organ ruined) and that has meant a lot of hard work and heart-ache for people on the PCC  - in many cases the same people but with a different focus.  But the Development Group was able to tap into new resources, new ideas and new enthusiasms whilst keeping its eye on the main prize.

So many meetings in church in what seemed like sub-zero temperatures and with no loo did help to concentrate the mind!  To take forward its own mission and better serve the village as well as its own congregation the church needed a toilet and a room which could be heated separately from the rest of the building and this is what we now have.  Already plans are in hand (of which more later) to open during National Heritage Week in September. So though one lot of work is coming to an end another begins – using the building to its full advantage in a changing world.

As we come towards the end of the project we can honestly say we have been very fortunate in the architect assigned to us by LEP - Rebecca       Gilbert-Rule who has worked really well with ourselves and with the     contractor,  and in the contractor himself ( Mark ... head of Lichfield     Construction from Grasscroft) who has  been sensitive to our needs and has done a first-class job - even stripping back a long area of original pew frontage to match the impressive oak and glass doors which separate the Narthex from the Nave.

*Well nearly -  reflects the fact that we have yet to choose, fund and lay a new carpet in the area outside the Community Room where the back pews were, the corridor where the new toilet is and, whilst we are at it,        hopefully the rest of the church. The Big Band night on 2nd July will help as has the recent Birthday Party for the Queen. The fund-raising by St. Thomas School and the Parish Walk in September will add to – and possibly see off - the necessary finance.

Though it has been a long road it has shown what is possible with great teamwork and the Development Group have really enjoyed working       together and sparking off each other to get the best possible outcomes.  A lot of the work is unseen outside the Development Group – we know a Queen’s Birthday Party in aid of the scheme is hard work but it can be (and was, thank you Jenny) great fun but there is no glamour, no buzz about   applying for a Faculty – as Liz knows just hours of slog to dot every ‘i’ and  cross every ‘t’. 

But that all adds up to a successful result and we hope everyone will be as proud of the project as we are. It has been a privilege to be able to take this forward - thank you for putting your trust in us.

Mel Farrar 
 Secretary to the Development Group.  



COMMEMORATIONS

Last Saturday 3rd September 2016 another quarter peal was rung at St. Thomas, Leesfield, Lees on the 100th anniversary of two more of our former members who fell in the Great War. We were joined by ringers from Oldham, Halifax, West Haughton, Heptonstall and Spitalfields, London. (Details are shown below). We were especially delighted to meet Mr. Alan Regin, Steward of the Rolls of Honour, from London who had brought, to show us, two books of remembrance, leather bound with pages made from vellum that are normally kept in St. Paul’s Cathedral. The first book produced in 1920 cost £25 and contains the names of the bellringers from Great Britain who died. However, the book was full and more names that were missing needed to be added. Alan, who has been researching for more information about the ringers, had the second book commissioned. This cost approx. £4,800. The names are shown in alphabetical order and further names can be added if required.
Alan told us that, apart from a tower in the northeast of England, Leesfield had the second largest number of ringers from one tower who fell during the Great War 1914 - 1918.
N.B. The first page of the book (shown right) shows the names of the battlefields and the bell ropes intertwined with barbed wire.
Later that day a full peal was rung at St. Mary the Virgin, Oldham and was dedicated to the former Leesfield ringers.
Many thanks to Mr. Derek Thomas for making all the arrangements.

Private Tom Schofield of the Duke of Wellington's (West Riding Regiment) 1st/7th Bn. Service No. 305780 who died 03/09/1916 aged 20 during the battles for Pozierers Ridge
He is commemorated at the Thiepval Memorial, France, (Pier and Face 6A and 6B)
Born 27/06/1896. Son of James and Sarah Schofield of Lees. He worked as a House Painter before leaving for France, initially Boulogne, on 14th April 1915.
Born: Lees, Lancashire. Enlisted: Uppermill. Resided: 1911 Census, 106 High St Lees Lancs.

Private Thomas Gibson, Died 09/09/1916 age 26. The Loyal North Lancashire Regiment 1st/4th Bn. Service No. 202773. Commemorated at Delville Wood Cemetery, Longueval, France, Grave XVIII. A. 5.  Son of Thomas and Mary Ann Gibson. Resided: at 15 Church Street, Lees. He worked as a Minder at Lees Union Mill before joining up, initially in the Manchester Regiment, Service Number 4756, then the King’s Liverpool Regiment before transferring to The Loyal North Lancashire Regiment. Born: Leigh, Lancs. Enlisted: Oldham, Lancs.

The other former ringer who we rang a quarter peal for last year to commemorate the centenary of his death on August 21st 1915 was  Private John Binns age 30. Commemorated at the Helles Memorial, Turkey. Panel 117 to 119.  He served in the 8th Battalion Duke of Wellington's (West Riding Regiment) Service Number 12149.  Son of Mrs. Hannah Binns at 31 Oldham Road, Springhead. Born: Keighley, Yorks. Enlisted: Keighley. Resided: Oldham, Lancs.

Peal & Quarter Details:
Lancashire Association
Lancashire Association
Lancashire Association
Leesfield, Lancashire
Oldham, Lancashire
Leesfield, Lancashire
St Thomas
St Mary the Virgin
St Thomas
Saturday 3 September 2016
Saturday 3 September 2016
Friday 21 August 2015
in 48m (14-0-8)
in 3h11m (15-0-0)
in 48m (14-0-8)
1260 Grandsire Triples
5024 Bristol Surprise Major
1260 Plain Bob Minor

Composed: James W Holdsworth (no.3)





1   Liz Dent                            (Leesfield)
1   Derek J Thomas            (Oldham)
1   Helen Rigby          (Newhey)
2   John M Thurman            (Halifax)
2   Lee Pinnington              (unattached)
2   Jack Whitehead     (Leesfield)
3   James E Andrews          
 (West Haughton)
3   James E Andrews         
 (West Haughton)
3   C Phillip Hope      (Newhey)
4   Brian Hayes                     (Leesfield)
4   Neil J Murray                (Halifax)
4   Brian Hayes           (Leesfield)
5   Derek J Thomas (C)       (Oldham)
5   George H Campling      (Heptonstall)
5   Eric Whitehead     (Leesfield)
6   George H Campling       (Heptonstall)
6   Geoffrey R Gardner     
 (Hazel Grove)
6   Derek J Thomas (C) (Oldham)
7   Alan Regin                        (Spitalfields,London)
7   Alan Regin                   (Spitalfields,London)

8   Eric Whitehead                (Leesfield)
8   John M Thurman (C)    (Halifax)





























Remembering Private Tom Schofield, died 03/09/1916, Private Thomas Gibson, died 09/09/1916 and Private John Binns 08/21/1915 formerly ringers at St Thomas, Leesfield, who fell in the Great War.