WARRINGTON Civic Society is bidding to ensure a historic bell dating back to 1883 can remain in the town after it was removed from St Thomas' Church.

After being collected from the Stockton Heath site, on London Road, last week the piece of heritage was taken to John Taylor & Co foundry in Loughborough to be assessed.

Attempts have since been made to clarify how much the return of the bell, which was donated to the church by industrialist John Crosfield in 1883 in memory of his wife, would cost.

The resale value of the bell including VAT is £10,660, with a deposit of half that amount needed within three weeks to prevent it being melted down or sold on.

It was feared that it may be sold as scrap but the Civic Society remains 'fairly hopeful' the bell will make a return to the town.

And some suggestions over potential locations where it could be situated have been put forward.

The matter was discussed at the group's meeting at Holy Trinity Church on Monday.

Chairman John Shipley said: "It has been removed but will be assessed at the foundry and might not be melted if there is a viable alternative.

"I have been in contact with them to clarify how much it is worth as scrap and how much the cleaning and return would cost.

"I am also trying to confirm a timescale over which funds could be gathered and a location found.

"Until the full cost breakdown is available I think the priority is to find a suitable location.

"I am hoping to find out more information in the next week and am fairly hopeful of it coming back.

"It is very important to keep heritage in the town – we have lost a lot in the past.

"The response from people shows how much they value it, there has been a lot of support."

A businessman from the area has offered to buy the bell and present it to the town.

But those hoping to see it return will have to wait for the foundry to provide further information over the next week.

The bell has been sitting in the church tower and remained inactive for decades, with new ones set to be introduced in the spring.

Any funds received by the foundry, which installed the feature, will be offset against its fees to St Thomas' and will go towards helping with planned construction work.

Marsha Roberts, from the church council, said: "It is up to the foundry now but we are definitely looking forward to the future with all the work going on – our new kitchen is now half finished.

"I was taken aback by the response from people about the bell.

"The new bells that are coming have loads of history."

For further information e-mail warrington.civsoc@gmail.com or call 07954 521972.