These images show the sorry state of an historic Wigan church now blighted by long disuse and vandalism.
St Joseph’s RC Church on Caroline Street closed its doors to worshippers more than 20 years ago and the new pictures reveal it has since deteriorated into a truly sad condition.
Those who recently became aware of the grade II listed building’s state have been deeply shocked by it.
Two people who entered the former place of worship even lit several candles and put them on the old altars before saying a prayer.
However, any hopes of a revival for the building, which was once located in Wigan’s thriving Irish quarter, currently appear slim.
The building was sold by the Archdiocese of Liverpool at auction soon after it stopped holding services in 1995 and its current ownership is unclear.
It has even been suggested that the decision to place it on Historic England’s register of listed buildings could have worked against it by limiting the redevelopment options.
Local historian Tom Walsh said: “It’s a sad story. This is one of the dangers of having a building listed because there are many things you can’t do.
“It was once a lovely, well-thought-of church and now it must be heartbreaking for those who used to go there. It might have been better if it had been demolished.”
The church was opened in 1878, although a smaller Roman Catholic place of worship and a Methodist chapel had previously stood on the site.
Planning permission was obtained back in 2002 to convert the building into a rock climbing centre but nothing came of it.
Marie Bintley, Wigan Council assistant director for planning and regeneration, said: “Bringing historic buildings such as disused churches back into use offers many benefits for the building itself, the surrounding environment and the local economy.
“The council is prepared to work with owners to offer advice and support on how this can be done and be as flexible as possible on end uses.”