Traders are urging people to support a £1.25 million fundraising project to repair one of the most photographed and visited churches in the world.

They are being rallied to back the project to restore the famous Haworth Parish Church where the Reverend Patrick Bronte, father of the famous Bronte sisters, was in charge until 1861.

The building also houses the crypt where most of the famous literary family is buried. The plight of the church was revealed in yesterday’s Telegraph & Argus.

Mike Hutchinson, chairman of Haworth Village Association, said it was particularly important that help should come from Government sources in these tough financial times.

The project involves repairing the leaking roof, installing a new heating system and re-wiring.

A band of business experts has already volunteered to help steer the fundraising activities by forming a Futures Group. Mr Hutchinson said: “This is an iconic building, a focal point of the village.

“Its importance is crucial to both its religious significance and as a tourist destination. It’s regarded world-wide as the Bronte church.”

Andrew McCarthy, director of the Bronte Parsonage Museum, said: “Haworth’s history and heritage is not simply the Brontes.

“There are other significant aspects of the village’s history and the church has its own heritage as well as its vital connection with the Bronte family. It’s very important the building is taken care of.

“We are supporting the fundraising initiative and despite our own challenges are keen to do anything we can to help.” Haworth Church vicar the Reverend Peter Mayo-Smith said an application had already been made to English Heritage for help.

He said: “We’ll be expected to match fund whatever they may offer. We are among a shortlist of 14 and are hoping to hear the outcome by December.”