Campaign to save historic hall

Peter Elson (right) with local residents who will attend a community meeting to discuss the Hall
Peter Elson (right) with local residents who will attend a community meeting to discuss the Hall
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A CAMPAIGN has been launched in a bid to secure the future of a grade II listed building.

A new group has been set up in the hopes of turning Loyola Hall, which was a spiritual retreat centre run by the Society of Jesus (the Jesuits) for the last nine decades until closure a year ago, into a community facility.

The Friends of Rainhill (Loyola) Hall is asking the community to share their ideas for the Georgian-building on Warrington Road in the hope of saving it from an uncertain future.

Ann Daniels, from the friends group, said: “We can’t sit around and let this fantastic opportunity pass by for the village to secure this major part of Rainhill’s history, which is why we want everyone to share their ideas for its future.

“This is a once in a lifetime chance to open up this amazing hall and grounds for public use.”

Ideas for the hall’s future so far include a venue for fetes, music festivals and classic car rallies, an outdoor theatre and a museum devoted to Rainhill’s place in global railway history.

The group has said that at present there is no price tag on the hall and estate and any community takeover would involve forming some sort of charitable trust to own and manage it.

Anne Slater, of Rainhilll Civic Society’s Heritage Group, said: “Rainhill Hall, a classic Georgian listed building in extensive grounds, is one of the village’s and Merseyside’s special hidden treasures.

“There is potential for the hall and gardens to become a significant centre for the people of Rainhill and far beyond to use and enjoy. It would be tragic if this significant landmark is lost.”

Brother Stephen Power, treasurer to the Society of Jesus, said: “We remain at the stage where we are waiting for some indication from St Helens Council of what is possible for the site.

“Any charity such as our trust is obliged with a property sale to get the market rate for it, but an exception to that could be if a sale is made to a charity with similar aims and objectives.”

A council spokesman said: “There are currently discussions taking place about potential future development, bearing in mind that the building is listed, and that the land contains protected

trees.

“With regards to the sale of the property, it is privately owned, and so the council has no influence on the

decision.”

The friends group held a meeting on Tuesday for people to share their ideas and has also now set up a Facebook page:​ facebook.com/groups/FriendsofRainhill.Loyola.Hall/.