A HISTORIC church in East Tilbury can be restored after winning a £176,000 grant.

St Catherine’s Church, in Princess Margaret Road, is one of the county’s oldest buildings.

The Grade I listed church will be able to go forward with planned work after receiving £176,000 from Veolia North Thames Trust.

The money will help to build an extension, replace the heating and exchange pews for chairs more suited to its range of activities, including lectures and exhibitions.

St Catherine’s rector, Canon Paul Robinson, said: “We are really grateful for the trust’s generosity in assisting us with this project.

“The grant is going to help with very important work. We are going to get toilets built and a kitchen, so we can make it available to the whole community.

“Until now, there have been limits on what we can do, but the work will allow us to hold events such as concerts and we are really excited about this.”

The project has also been supported by the Royal Opera House Purfleet and local schools and colleges.

Parts of the church date back to the 12th century. It is built on the site of the seventh century monastery of St Cedd and also has close links to the Coalhouse Fort.

Mr Robinson added: “We are most fortunate here to be caretakers of such an important and historic building.

“It is a responsibility we take very seriously, but it is also very costly.”

Other projects which have benefited from the trust include East Thurrock Community Association, resurfacing Blackshots Tennis Club and North Stifford Voluntary Community Group.

Doug Benjafield, chairman of Veolia North Thames Trust, said: “The trust has been closely involved with the ongoing Coalhouse Fort project and we are very pleased to be given this opportunity to assist its local church.

“We’re very fortunate in south east Essex to have so many historic and interesting buildings in the area.

“At our last meeting, the trustees and I reviewed a large and varied list of initiatives which we know will benefit our local communities.

“We were delighted to be able to provide such a substantial and record-breaking amount of funding and look forward to seeing the projects come to fruition.”