TWO hundred tonnes of stone that once made up the façade of the Baptist Tabernacle could be back in town in two months.

The stone blocks are currently lying in a courtyard on 260 pallets in Northamptonshire, but are likely to be transported back to Swindon in June or July to form part of the £200m Granville Street redevelopment.

Swindon Council leader Roder-ick Bluh has been instrumental in getting the return of the famous landmark and he expects the stones to be in place when the Modus redevelopment is completed in 2010.

They will form the façade to an art gallery at the Town Hall end of Granville Street.

"The main thing that needs to be done is for the contract to be signed for the purchase of the stones and that is going on at the moment," said Coun Bluh.

"Once that is completed the stones should make their way back in June or July.

"We are hoping to get them stored at the Science Museum so they can be assembled up there and brought down to the site.

"It will go up as part of the Modus Granville Street redevelopment and that is going to be developed by 2010 so I would expect to see it in place by then."

The Baptist Tabernacle in Regent Circus was demolished in 1978 and the portico bought by artist Stanley Frost.

After Mr Frost failed to gain planning permission to rebuild the portico at his home at Bell Farm in Brokenborough, near Malmes-bury, the stones were eventually bought by Neil Taylor, who came up against the same problems at his home in Northamptonshire.

What remains of the landmark, built in 1886, are six columns, the roof, the façade, and the stone wall surrounds.

In past polls, Adver readers have voted overwhelmingly in favour of the tabernacle returning to Swindon to house a museum or art gallery. All four developers bidding to revamp the Granville Street car park site were asked to include the landmark in their plans.

And Coun Bluh said he is delighted his dream of recreating part of the town's heritage is starting to become a reality.

"I started this project two and a half years ago," Coun Bluh said.

"I must admit I thought it was a long shot, but the important thing is that the developers have recognised its value because it links the past with the new."

When it has been reconstructed, the tabernacle will be placed opposite its former home of the Pilgrim Centre.

The Granville Street redevelopment will create a shopping centre called Regent Place.

It will include 300,000 sq ft two-level shopping area anchored by a food store with additional large shops, an eight or nine screen multiplex cinema, a food hall and restaurants.

There will also be 250 apartments and a 750-space underground car park.