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Arson attack on St Margaret’s Church in Ilkley

The interior of St Margaret's Church in Ilkley

SERVICES have been cancelled at St Margaret’s Church in Ilkley as police investigate an arson attack at the historic church.

Police are appealing for witnesses after fire broke out at the Queens Road church when it is believed an umbrella stand in the entrance to the building had been set on fire. A spokesperson for West Yorkshire Police said: “CCTV enquiries are being carried out and local neighbourhood patrols have been stepped up to provide reassurance.” Police attended the church at 3.45pm on Monday 9th January and are now asking for anyone in the area at the time to get in touch.

The churchwardens of the place of worship, which dates back to the 1870s, said that they had taken the tough decision to cancel services this week, with the hope Sunday services will resume as normal from this weekend.

In a statement posted on the church website, they said: “You may already have heard that unfortunately there has been a small fire in church this afternoon, Monday 9 January. The fire has been extinguished. We are very grateful for the rapid response of the local fire brigade.

“The church will remain closed while the damage is assessed by our insurance company. “There will be no weekday services this week but at the moment we expect Sunday services to take place.

“The Parish Hall will be open to hirers as normal from Tuesday 10 January.”

Anyone who witnesses anything suspicious in the vicinity of the church is asked to contact police via 101 or use the live chat facility at quoting crime reference 13230015626.

Parishioners responded to the news on the church’s Facebook page, with one saying: “So sorry to hear this news. So glad the fire was caught quickly! Very glad no one was hurt! Best wishes to all.”

Another added: “Sorry state of affairs when the church, which is open dawn to dusk, is misused.”

The church was founded in 1879, initially to provide a place of worship for the growing population of Ilkley which at the time only had All Saints’ Church for the devout, but quickly grew its own congregation beyond that of an overflow church. The current vicar is Father Alex Crawford, who took up position in September 2021.


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