A Bradford councillor has called for action to be taken over a decaying and vandalised church after urban explorers exposed the shocking state of the 166-year-old building.

Photographs seen by the Telegraph & Argus show smashed pews and cupboards, plaster ripped from walls and evidence of fires being set inside the grade II-listed St Paul’s Church, in Denholme Gate.

Historic memorial plaques – including one dating back 130 years and commemorating the death of a soldier – have also been left exposed, and vandals have “run amok” in the crumbling building.

Bingley rural councillor Mike Ellis said: “It is shocking. This is a listed building and we have to look at the health and safety risk of anyone going in there. I think the Council has a responsibility to take action both to secure it and ensure it is not deteriorating further.”

The damage was highlighted by an anonymous photographer who posted the pictures on Facebook to highlight the plight of the now- derelict building.

They show smashed-up furniture littering the church’s knave and other rooms. There is a huge hole in the striking blue arched ceiling and no windows left, leaving plaques bearing the names of dead parishioners open to the elements.

One plaque is in memory of former soldier Abraham Garth, of Well Heads, who died in 1882 and had been decorated for his bravery, as well as his widow, Ellen. Another wooden plaque displays the names of the church benefactors.

The photographer said: “The kids are hanging out in there and running around, smashing the place up.

“These places are like magnets for kids who are running amok and damage is being done. It could end up like many old buildings in Bradford – getting burned down.”

Coun Ellis said he would contact Bradford Council’s building control and heritage officers to ask them to take immediate action.

“It is clearly a risk and I am going to get in touch with the Council’s teams to see just what powers they have to secure it,” he said.

“It remains insecure and the next thing is that they end up on fire.”

Alison Bogle, a spokesman for Bradford Diocese, said St Paul’s Church had been sold to a private developer in 1999.

Bradford Council granted planning permission for it to be turned into a house about five years ago, but renovations have yet to begin.