THE HISTORIC bells of a Plaistow church will be ringing out for many years to come after it received a £40,800 National Heritage Lottery grant for a restoration project.

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Memorial Community Church in Barking Road has been given the funding to clean and repair its ten Memorial Bells, which include the names of 169 men who died during service in the First World War.

Jim Ludlam, from The Hub Local History Group in Canning Town, said: “It’s likely that very few people know of this important historical asset.

“We believe that this project is a very important way of strengthening pride in Canning Town.”

The church has been awarded a further £500 from the Heritage of London Trust for the project and submitted two more bids for the remaining £7,500 needed for the scheme.

The funds will be used to have the bells restored at a local foundry and for the staircase up to the belfry to be made safe with a handrail.

Plans are in place to carry out the work at the same time as the external repairs to the bell tower this summer, provided a further £29,000 can be found to fund this separate £250,000 project.

Volunteers from The Hub, Kaizen Primary School, the East Ham branch of the Royal British Legion, Newham Community Learning and the Historica Apus history club will work together to find out more about the men whose names are preserved on the bells. They will use their findings to produce an exhibition and website about the memorial.

A virtual tour will be available at the church for those not able to climb up to the belfry.

The volunteers hope to track down relatives of the servicemen.

Congregation member Elsie Lewis, 73, of Cumberland Road, Plaistow, said: “I am delighted that we have the money to finally restore the bells, which my husband and my sons used to ring in the past.

“I’m particularly glad that children and young people are going to be the ones who will create the learning resources that will help others to find out about the men whose names are on the bells and who might have lived in the same streets and gone to the same schools as they do now.”

The Grade II listed Byzantine-style church opened in 1922, with the bells being installed in 1925.

You can help the church reach its fundraising target by going to www.memorialcc.org

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