THE Victorian Society is backing Widnes campaigners who are fighting to save a historic church from the bulldozers.
In September, Archbishop Patrick Kelly, of the Archdiocese of Liverpool, issued a letter to parishioners announcing that the church would be demolished early next year and replaced with a much smaller building costing £150,000.
Parishioners launched a campaign urging churchgoers to attend Masses there every Sunday to demonstrate the need to keep the existing building running.
Now, the Victorian Society, a charity fighting to preserve the UK's Edwardian and Victorian architectural heritage, is appealing to English Heritage to make St Marie's a listed building.
Listed status for the mid 19th Century building would prevent any demolition move.
St Marie's was built by EW Pugin, one of leading architects of his day, for the Catholic Church.
David Gerrard, left, historic churches advisor of the Victorian Society, said: 'St Marie's is an outstanding and well-preserved building by an important architect.
'It is nationally significant and it should be listed.
'Demolishing St Marie's would rob Widnes of a beautiful and valued building. We urge the diocese to think again.'
Archbishop Kelly told parishioners that the parish had been decimated and that the decision was made 'after long and searching thought'.
Expressing 'great sorrow, bitter-ness and sense of loss' the archbishop said: 'We have tried as far as possible to keep people informed and to be as open and informative as we can. But in the end, the future of St Marie's Church cannot be a democratic decision.'