TWO parishioners of Headless Cross Methodist Church have vowed to try to save their unique church from demolition.

Church members were recently asked to vote on options concerning the building's future.

These consisted of doing nothing and facing its closure, maintaining existing premises, demolishing the existing buildings and building new ones or sharing funding with another church or organisation. It was decided to rebuild the church.

Several areas of dry rot were discovered in 1998 and during an inspection last year new problems were revealed, including areas where readings indicated the structure was getting saturated.

But parishioners Jenny Johnson and Joan Witherington-Perkins believe the demolition of the Victorian church means the loss of a piece of history.

Mrs Witherington-Perkins said: "It's a unique building which should be preserved for future generations.

"The steeple is a rare design and a great landmark which shouldn't be destroyed.

"Over many years we've fund-raised to pay for building improvements and now it's to be demolished."

And Mrs Johnson added: "We've started a petition and we can think of at least 100 people from the area who simply don't want to see this beautiful building go."

The Rev Carrol Popley said: "The decision to rebuild hasn't been taken lightly. It's come after more than two years of discussions and consultations.

"Reluctantly the church had to accept the facts that it can no longer sustain the repair and upkeep of the existing premises.

"Our mission is to provide a worship centred, multipurpose building/community facility. The next few months will be spent with church members and community groups ensuring their needs are incorporated.

"The building will be designed to require little maintenance during the next 25 years and where possible, to ensure it incorporates our many and varied past traditions."