A Watford church which was burned down in a shock arson attack is set to re-open after months of repairs - but the offender remains at large.

The blaze at Derby Road Baptist Church in February caused substantial damage to the interior of the church, but police - who have so far made no arrests - do not believe the crime had a religious motive.

Pastor Tom Forryan, who has been at Derby Road for 16 years, said they have been left with questions and no answers.

Watford Observer:

He said: "We have just been left with questions about what could motivate someone to do that.
"We don’t know if it was a practical joke or if someone has a problem with us as a church.

"It’s scary because when someone starts a fire like that, there’s no way of telling how it will end. No one was hurt this time, but it is an alarming thought."

Now the fire-damaged floor of the main hall has been repaired, the chairs replaced and a community effort has seen the thick layer of black soot removed and the whole building cleaned.

The 60-strong congregation has not been able to worship at the building for the past six months, but it is due to be officially re-opened next month.

Pastor Forryan thanked the community for being very patient and said people had helped the church in unexpected ways.

He said: "The big hall was burnt, which was our main meeting area. There was smoke and soot everywhere throughout the church. A lot of cleaning work has gone on.

"But people have really helped us in unexpected ways, local people have been very supportive.

"It’s difficult for us to understand why someone would start a fire in our building. The police investigation hasn’t come to a definite conclusion. No one came forward.

"We are just hoping it was a one-off and doesn’t happen again."

The regular Sunday services moved to the Central Primary School in Watford while the repairs were carried out.

A thanksgiving service is set to be held on Saturday, September 20, at 3pm to officially re-open the church. Mayor Dorothy Thornhill and Watford MP Richard Harrington will be attending the service.

Giles Cooper, spokesman for Hertfordshire Constabulary, said the appeal for witnesses is ongoing.

He said: "No arrests have been made. The arson has been fully investigated. There are no current lines of active investigation."

Anyone with any information is asked to contact Hertfordshire police non-emergency number 101 quoting the crime reference number C1/14/480. Alternatively call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.