"At Risk" status helps supports Central Hall

21 November 2023

How being added to the Heritage At Risk register of Historic England is an opportunity for Longton Methodist Central Hall

 Longton Methodist Central Hall was added to the At Risk register of Historic England in November 2023. After becoming a Grade II Listed Building in 2021, it was a necessary step to unlock funding and ensure that the Methodist Hall will be restored.

 Built in 1933 from the adaption of an 1842 chapel, Longton Methodist Central Hall in Stoke-on-Trent is one of the Methodist Central Halls still active, but time has taken its toll. The massive building (more than 50 rooms) needed repairs that were not affordable for the congregation.

 “Historic England came to evaluate the building in December 2022 and decided to add the Methodist Hall to the At Risk register. This is good news as it unlocks funding we would not have had otherwise,” explains Revd Jenny Dyer of the Potteries Mission Circuit.

 Longton’s addition to the Heritage At Risk register of Historic England is an opportunity to receive funding to help preserve the building.

 “The £38,400 grant we received will be used for plaster work on the beams and to assess what needs to be done on the roof,” adds Kevin Ford, Property Manager of Longton Methodist Central Hall. Supported by the Chester and Stoke-on-Trent Methodist District, they have applied for funding from the district, the National Lottery Community Fund and the Methodist Church.

 Well-loved in its community, the Hall offers worship, band practice and Boys Brigades and is often chosen to hold funerals. One of the shops at the front of the building is rented to a jeweller and the other one is used as a charity shop by the church.

 The front part of the Hall, with a large sanctuary, a quiet vestry, a stewards’ vestry, a prayer room, a flat, more small rooms and the two shops at the front, has been listed as a Grade II building whilst the back, the Sunday school with about 40 rooms, was not.

 The problem faced by the congregation is that, even though there is a lot of space and the church is active, too many rooms are unused. A feasibility study funded by the district is underway to assess the building and the possibility of turning the unlisted back section of the building into apartments.

 “Y Housing at the YMCA already worked on a similar project in Blackburn where they refurbished apartments. We would like something similar that would help the community and ensure the building is used,” says Jenny.

 Once the feasibility study is done, the church will have a strategy meeting in December to decide if they will refurbish the back of the building and relocate the activities in the main building.