The story of the tin church

There are some places where the past seems to live in the present. Laragh Heritage Village is one of those places. Why not see for yourself? Take a stroll to the extraordinary St Peter’s Tin Church and transport yourself back to the heyday of this unique village.

It’s 1891. You find yourself amidst a hive of industry. Around you workers emerge from rows of cottages (one row still remains today) and hurry to an array of beautiful stone buildings - spinning mills, tweed mills, beetling mills and corn mills. As their parents scurry to work, the children walk in little groups to the little mill school.

At the gate lodge of a large country mansion, a distinguished man looks towards the brightly painted St Peter’s Church with a satisfied air. It was not long ago, he recalls, that he and his wife fell in love with a charming iron church they saw on honeymoon in Switzerland. And now, they have recreated their own tin church, also made of sheets of corrugated iron, in a small wooded valley by the river.

Eventually, the mills closed and the people drifted away from the village. But the little tin church, with its delightful three-stage spire, remains. Although falling numbers led to it being deconsecrated in 1962, the beautifully restored ‘iron church’ is as atmospheric today as it ever was.

The story doesn’t end there. The village, whose industrial roots stretch back to the 18th century, has been reclaimed by the Laragh Heritage Trust, a group of local residents who are proud of its history and want to share its memories with visitors.