WORK has started to repair an ancient cross at a historic Widnes church which was damaged in a crash.

A man was arrested on suspicion of drug driving after a car ploughed into the sandstone wall of St Luke’s C of E Church on Farnworth Street on the evening of October 27 last year.

The silver saloon car involved came to rest between big old tombstones and one of the entrance doors.

The church on Pit Lane dates back to the 12th century and is the oldest in Halton.

In a statement at the time of the incident, St Luke’s said: “The car demolished the 15th century sandstone wall, throwing pieces of sandstone towards the church building.

“It also hit the 10’ tall sandstone Anglo Saxon Preaching Cross, which dates from the 9th century, breaking it into several pieces.

“The cross seems to have stopped the car going further towards the church building.

“The driver of the car ran off into the churchyard, but was later arrested by the police as the car belonged to the driver, so police were able to access his details quite quickly.

“The whole incident was captured on the CCTV cameras at the corner shop. It was very fortunate that no one was walking near the church, or any cars parked by the shop at the time.

“The car was finally removed by the police just after midnight. The area was made safe by a church warden and assistant on Saturday morning.

“Hopefully an insurance claim will cover the majority of the damage, but the repair to the Celtic cross will be expensive, as it will require a specialist stone mason to do the work.

“A repair to one of the gargoyles recently cost £8,000, so this repair will possibly be double that amount.”

Now, the church has shared photos showing work underway to repair the damage to both the cross and the wall.

Posting on social media, it said: “It has been a busy week at church. The cross pillar has been reinstated and the wall rebuild is progressing too.

Runcorn and Widnes World: St Luke's Church in WidnesSt Luke's Church in Widnes (Image: Google Maps)

“Thank you to the amazingly talented stone masons for their hard work in terrible weather conditions.”

In the days following the crash, Cheshire Police confirmed that officers attended the scene and arrested a suspect.

A force spokesman said: “At around 8.40pm on Friday, October 27, police were called to a single-vehicle collision in Pit Lane, Widnes.

“A car had left the road and collided with a wall. Officers attended and found the vehicle unoccupied.

“Enquiries were conducted at the scene, and after a search of the area, and a man was arrested on suspicion of drug driving.

“He has since been released under investigation.”

In an update, the force has confirmed that the suspect remains released under investigation while officers in the case await the return of blood test results.