A commemorative photo album which documents the major restoration project of Waltham Abbey Church has been returned to the town, almost 50 years later.

The album was originally owned by Colin Rutherford, who was presented the historical pictures as a thank you for providing vital funding to the church.

Mr. Rutherford, who was born in Waltham Abbey, worked most of his life in China before finally retiring to British Colombia, Canada.

He sadly passed away in November1973 aged 96 but it was his final wish was that the album should be returned to Waltham Abbey.

Almost 46 years later, Mr Rutherford’s wish was made after his granddaughter, Laurie Pederson, accompanied by her daughter and two grandchildren flew over from Canada to make the trip.

The family met with Waltham Abbey Rector, Revd. Peter Smith on Sunday, June 30 to mark the occasion.

“I cannot express enough our gratitude and heartfelt thanks to Laurie for her grand-father’s generosity all those years ago,” Revd. Smith.

“I am delighted to accept back this very important record of all that was achieved – truly we would not have the church we have today without the success of the 1960s restoration, which surely, would not have been possible without Colin Rutherford’s contribution.”

In total £18,000 (£360,000 in today’s money) was donated Mr Rutherford to help restore the church, the final cost adding up to £45,000 (£900,000).

During 1960 Waltham Abbey Church was in a very poor state, with dirty he exterior stonework and the east end was near to collapse.

The insurers were refused to insure the building, so an Appeal Fund was launched guided by a Board of Trustees with the Bishop of Chelmsford as Chairman.

The restoration of the Church took five years to achieve, ending with a special celebratory service attended by Princess Margaret of York in November 1964.

Mr Rutherford’s granddaughter was given a tour of the church by Grenville Weltch, who has recently written a book telling the story of the Appeal and Restoration.

Lawrence Greenall also met met with the family to present his research into the ancestral history of the Rutherford family.

Speaking about the emotional afternoon, Ms Pederson said: “I cannot express how wonderful this afternoon has been for me, and I do hope that all that my daughter and her boys have seen here in Waltham Abbey has led them to feel the connection that is truly in their blood, that of the Rutherfords.”

Waltham Abbey Church Saved! For the People and the Nation. The Story of the 1960-65 Restoration of Waltham Abbey Parish Church, Essex. By Grenville Weltch, is available to purchase from the Society and the Visitors’ Centre, Waltham Abbey Church (£10 per copy.)