Day centre sold off at auction

Members of St Helens MS Society who meet at Windle Pilkington House
Members of St Helens MS Society who meet at Windle Pilkington House

A WELL-known day centre went under the hammer last week after a planned refurbishment had to be scrapped.

Windle Pilkington House, which was built with the help of Lord and Lady Pilkington and opened by comedian Ken Dodd in 1982, was sold for £195,000 in an auction at Manchester United’s Old Trafford stadium last Thursday (December 1).

But auctioneers Pugh and Company said they could not disclose who had bought the building.

A Town Hall spokesman confirmed last month that a planned refurbishment of the single-storey King Street centre had to be shelved when the council was left counting the cost of the Government’s comprehensive spending review.

He told the Reporter: “The building was originally intended as a New Centre for Independent Living, but unfortunately this was unable to go ahead as a result of last year’s spending review.

“The building hasn’t been used by any community groups since May 7 last year and, at the time it was vacated, we supported all the various groups to find alternative venues - while some found their own.

“We confirmed that the refurbishment of the centre was not going ahead on January 24 this year.

“Most groups declined an offer of help in finding alternative accommodation as they had already made their own arrangements.”

Among the community groups which used to meet at Windle Pilkington House is the St Helens branch of the Multiple Sclerosis (MS) Society.

The group’s vice chairman, Jim Gormley, said: “About two years ago we were told that the centre was going to be refurbished and that the £300,000 to pay for it had been ring-fenced.

“But the work only lasted a matter of weeks and we were then told that, for health and safety reasons, we would have to find a permanent new home.

“Apparently they had already taken all the wiring out when the work had to stop.”

He added: “It’s such a shame. We had used the centre every fortnight since it opened and been looking forward to going back. Windle Pilkington House was ideal for our group’s members. It’s in the town centre, has wheelchair access, disabled toilets and convenient parking.”

As well as being used as a day centre, Windle Pilkington House also used to host meetings for local bereavement support groups as well as dementia and Alzheimer’s support groups.