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A BELOVED church has finally been torn down to make way for a new £420,000 building.

Yesterday marked the end of an era for parishioners at St Michael’s Church, in St Michael’s Road, Daws Heath, Thundersley, as the 90-year-old site was demolished to make way for a new facility.

The ageing timber building, which was built as an Army hut in the First World War, had only been intended to last ten years.

Now, more than eighty years later, churchgoers have finally had to call it a day as the rotting building is beyond economic repair.

Diggers bulldozed the old building in the early hours of the morning to make way for a new modern church, complete with a new community hall.

The Rev Marian Sturrock said: “It is sad when you think of all the people who have been married and baptised here and all the memories that have been created.

“But, at the same time the building was getting very old and I know everyone is excited and looking forward to the rebuild getting under way.”

The new building has been made possible by a two-year campaign which has seen parishioners raise more than £400,000 through charitable events, donations and grants.

Fundraising is almost complete, with only around £15,000 needed to complete the campaign.

This comes after Essex County Council awarded the congregation with a £10,000 grant as part of their Big Society scheme to help refurbish the interior of the building.

Ken Jones, 64, of Western Road, Daws Heath, who is leading the project, said: “I think everyone here has mixed feelings both of sadness for the old church, but anticipation for the new building.

“It has been a long time coming and we are excited things are now under way.”

Contractors anticipate the new building will be completed by mid-June in time for its grand reopening on June 25.

For more information on how to donate to the church rebuildfund, contact Mr Jones on 01702 555573.