THE end of the lockdown looks like to signal the end for one of Darlington's town centre churches. A note has been attached to the fencing around the Congregational church in Union Street, behind Boots, said it was due to come down in May. That was delayed, and once the necessary paperwork regarding some bats is complete, the council expects to begin work in weeks.

It will put the church out of its misery. Its grand name is the Darlington Congregational Bicentenary Memorial Church, and it was opened on August 24, 1862 – 200 years to the day since 2,000 Puritan ministers had been expelled from the Church of England to from the Congregationalists.

They'd been worshipping in Union Street since 1812, and renowned local architect JP Pritchett designed the church for them, complete with its 100ft steeple. He also designed, in 1875, the Sunday School beside it.

In 1972, the Congregationalists merged with the Presbyterians to form the United Reformed Church, and Union Street, surplus to requirements, was sold. It became a carpet and furniture showroom, but was unloved and deteriorated.

Before it goes, a photographic survey will record it. Its foundation stone will be salvaged, and it would be nice to think some of the other Gothic carvings could be saved to make a little feature in whatever comes next on the site that has had a Congregational connection for nearly 210 years.