THE borough will bid a fond farewell to the Benedictine monks who have served the community for 240 years.

Tonight, Thursday, a service to mark the years of service from the order will take place at St Mary’s Church - their final home in Warrington.

In 1772 the Benedictine monks of Ampleforth Abbey founded St Alban’s church on Bewsey Road, the first post-reformation church in the town.

They went on to build churches in the borough including St Benedict's, St Oswald’s and the Buttermarket Street church in 1877.

It was designed by E W Pugin, and considered to be one of his finest buildings.

But in January Ampleforth Abbey announced it could no longer provide pastoral care for the parish church, built on the site of a cotton mill.

So the Liverpool Archdiocese is now taking control of the church and tonight Father William Wright OSB will hand over the key to new parish priest Monsignor John Devine.

Mgr Devine said: “It’s a way of saying thank you to them and a way of marking the time they have been present at St Mary’s.

“It’s marking their legacy in the town.”

Fr William added: “We will also be looking forward to the future. I was very happy serving that parish community. It was a very happy time. We used to run four parishes in the town.”

As a town centre church it has drawn people from far and wide.

Mgr Devine added: “During the week there is mass every day and that draws 50 to 60 people who come to St Mary’s and there is a strong historical tradition of good church music that draws people from further afield than Warrington.

“The Benedictines have also been an extra pull but also the fact the church is a fine example of Pugin architecture.”

And with the passing of the order’s presence in the town both the Right Rev Cuthbert Madden OSB, Abbot of Ampleforth, and the Most Rev Patrick Kelly, Archbishop of Liverpool will be celebrating the change at the service, which starts at 7.30pm.