A dilapidated former church in Blackburn has been transformed into a new mosque following major renovations.

The first prayers at the Masjid-e-Taqwa in Pleckgate Road took place this week following extensive renovations to the historic building, which was the home to St Chad's Church.

The building was unused for a number of years. There had been plans to turn it into housing but this never transpired, until a team of dedicated volunteers stepped in to save the building.

Funds were donated locally and extensive work to the interior and exterior of the building began a year ago.

The new mosque aims to serve those living within the local vicinity.

The mosque holds 180 worshippers and includes prayer space over two floors and an area to complete the ablution (Wudu).

A small entrance space with a stairwell area is where visitors take their shoes off.

There are no other extensions to the building and the traditional window and doorway features have been kept intact.

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Work began only a year ago to transform the building. 

A spokesperson for the mosque said: “We tried to keep to the original features of the building and attempted to incorporate these into the new design.

“Most notably inside the prayer hall the wooden beams make the up the most defining feature.

"This has been complimented by anyone who has visited the mosque both Muslim and non-Muslim.

“The doorways and archways are also something that help to give the mosque its own unique character.

“We invited people who live in the area to see for themselves the transformation and we were delighted to hear their comments.”

Outside the mosque, a new car park, lighting and landscaping features have brought the building back to life.

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The much-loved building had been left in disrepair for many years.

A local resident, Brian, who visited the mosque said: “This is a really high-quality building now and they have really improved this from what it was.

“It is beautiful. I have never seen anything like it.”

Leader of Blackburn with Darwen Council Cllr Phil Riley visited the mosque recently.

He said: “What a wonderful building it is and what a tribute to the efforts everybody has put in.

“This was a semi-derelict building for a period of time and it is now an absolutely beautiful building. The work has been done to such a high level. It really is an impressive addition to the local community.”

St Chad’s was a single-storey stone-built building constructed circa 1870. It later became a day school and also had a Sunday School. It is understood that services continued to be held in the building until the 1970s.

However it later fell into disrepair and had an uncertain future.

Volunteers in the area have been keen to support their neighbourhood over the years and have led a number of litter picking and clean up campaigns.

Mosque volunteers who help will help to maintain the building this week encouraged people to walk to prayers add: “However, if you must arrive by car, please park in the Masjid car park following instructions from the parking stewards. 

“Please take into consideration not to inconvenience the neighbours around the Masjid by crowding and noise outside.”