A TRIUMPHANT day of events saw hundreds of people celebrate the 80th anniversary of Elm Ridge Methodist Church.

Hordes of visitors flocked to the church to enjoy a range of attractions from guided tours to historical displays and exhibitions in what organiser Hilda Rishworth described as an “absolutely brilliant” weekend.

She said: “I couldn’t quite believe it; I’ve never seen a church so busy.

“When I opened the curtains in the morning and saw the snow I was worried that it would put people off from coming, but it didn’t seem to at all.

“It was absolutely heaving all day long and the guided tours were very popular – they were full all day with 25 people each time they went round.

“We also had people visit who had got married in the church years ago and came back to see if their names were still in the register.

“They came from all over and it was just wonderful.”

The church, on Carmel Road South, Darlington, has been a vibrant community hub for the last 80 years.

It houses all manner of groups including the Scouts and Guides and the Probus Club and even has its own table tennis and bowls clubs.

Art classes and pre-school sessions also take place in the building.

Most of the groups who use the church took part in Saturday’s anniversary open day and Mrs Rishworth was delighted that the event had been such a success.

“It is always a very lively church, it is definitely a living church,” she said. “But I’d never seen so many people there as there were on Saturday.

“Even when I thought there might be a quiet time over lunch, people just continued to come through the doors.”

The 80th anniversary celebrations were rounded off with a concert by the Darlington Choral Society.

The church was built in 1867 as a home by John Pease, the eldest son of Edward Pease, founder of the Darlington and Stockton Railway, and reopened as a church in 1932.