THE Reverend of Saltaire's historic Grade I listed church says she is "absolutely devastated" after part of the ornate ceiling collapsed.

Saltaire United Reformed Church, which was commissioned and paid for by Titus Salt in the mid 19th century, was damaged in the wake of Storm Dennis ahead of Sunday worship.

One member of the church family walked into the church on the morning of February 16 and found the pews covered in plaster, dust and battered ceiling features which had broken off.

It isn't the first time the ceiling has collapsed, leaving Reverend Caroline Andrews wondering how the church is going to fix thousands of pounds worth of damage.

Bradford Telegraph and Argus:

The district has been left deeply affected by the destruction of what one Saltaire resident describes as "the symbol of Bradford".

Reverend Andrews told the Telegraph & Argus: "It's devastating. Absolutely devastating.

"It's a good thing no one was hurt.

"With it being a world heritage site, we have so many people that would pop in on the Sunday.

"While it's terrible that the ceiling has come down, we're really counting our blessings that people weren't injured.

"I got a call around nine o' clock and when he explained I just felt completely sick.

Bradford Telegraph and Argus:

"I know what the congregation has done in order to keep the church going. They do their level best to keep it open.

"It costs a lot to run the building.

"In some ways it's very much about the church being so loved. The church is packed out every Christmas, every Easter."

Maria Glot, the Saltaire UNESCO World Heritage tour guide, says every single school and university she has phoned with the news has been devastated.

Maria's love for the building has been shared to thousands of people across the globe in the past 27 years.

And it shows. In the days since it happened, Maria says over 15,000 people have been emailing, calling or texting about the damage.

For Maria, it's more than just a church.

It's our Taj Mahal. It's the Taj Mahal of Bradford."

- Maria Glot, the Saltaire UNESCO World Heritage tour guide.

She said: "It's the Saltaire church. Anything we can do to help, we will do.

"I love the building because it oozes history, totally oozes. They have generations of people who have lived and worshipped in Saltaire. Albums of births, deaths. They've got the people who served in the first world war, second world war.

"It's a symbol of the wealth and the skills this area has to offer. The beautiful architecture, the beautiful pillars, the ornate plasterwork. These are all skills to the incredible craftsmen that makes an amazing place to live and visit.

"That church symbolises so much: culture, history, worship.

"About 15,000 people have contacted me since it happened. It shows you just how important it is.

Bradford Telegraph and Argus:

"There are certain buildings like Lister Mill, Bingley Five Rise, certain things that really should be preserved and supported.

"Titus Salt didn't do anything by halves.

"I don't think people realise just how much there is to see and do in this area. We shouldn't lose a single one.

"This is a symbol of Bradford.

Bradford Telegraph and Argus: Zac Williamson with some of the damageZac Williamson with some of the damage

"The groups, they're absolutely devastated. I phoned a Spanish group this morning to tell them they won't be able to go in it. I've got a German group on the 31st March and I've had to tell them. Everyone just says, what can we do to help."

It isn't known when the damage will be repaired.

Bradford Telegraph and Argus:

Maria, the former tourism officer for Bradford, says she has shown off the church to children as young as four all the way to those aged 101.

Titus Salt donated the land and paid for the cost of the church himself, a cost of £16,000, equivalent to £1,622,091 in 2019.

The church was designed by the Bradford-based architect partnership of Lockwood and Mawson in the Italianate Classical style.

The foundation stone of the church was laid by Caroline Salt, Titus Salt's wife, in 1856 and opened in 1859.

On the south side of the nave is the Salt family mausoleum where Sir Titus Salt was buried after his death in 1876.