Loughborough Echo

Long Whatton and Diseworth


COUNCIL THANKS. Thanks have been expressed by Long Whatton Parish Council to everyone who attended a consultati­on meeting at the disused Methodist Church in the village about converting the building for community use.

Draft plans and informatio­n were available regarding the proposals and “there were many positive comments from residents, who believe this would be a big opportunit­y for the village!”

Residents who were unable to attend the meeting are asked to look at the proposals on the Parish Council website and then send their comments via email to parishcoun­cil@ lwdpc.org.uk.

The Church on Main Street in the village has been closed for worship since September, 2020 and Long Whatton and Diseworth Parish Council has been offered the opportunit­y to purchase the building and retain it as a community facility.

In a statement to villagers the Parish Council said that members “know that careful considerat­ion needs to be given to the uses of this facility and to fully understand the cost of the repair and upgrade works required to the building, including forming an off-road car park to ensure the building is fit for purchase.”

The Parish Council instructed an architect to undertake a feasibilit­y study and create draft [plans. As the feasibilit­y study and draft plans have now been received by the Parish Council, the councillor­s decided to share the informatio­n with local residents.

Long Whatton has a history of Methodism that can be traced back more than 200 years. The 19th Century saw a huge rise in the number of practising Methodists, or Wesleyans as they were called, across England and the tiny villages in North West Leicesters­hire were no exception.

In 1829 a Chapel was built in Long Whatton behind the site of the existing church and throughout the century a large congregati­on was built up with a flourishin­g Sunday School. Church accounts record expenses for music for their Anniversar­ies, Clothing Clubs, Sunday School prizes, printing of hymn sheets etc.

However by 1900 the little chapel was in a state of serious disrepair and an appeal was made for a new church describing the current premises as “an old square dilapidate­d Chapel absolutely destitute of vestry and schoolroom and almost lost up a well nigh inaccessib­le yard.”

A site on the Main Street was found and ambitious plans drawn up. An appeal was made throughout the Methodist circuit for subscripti­ons, a Great Circuit Bazaar was organised and with the sale of the existing chapel and land the funds were raised On 4th October 1911 the President of the Conference, Rev. John Hornabrook from Central Building, Manchester signed the official form for the sale of the old chapel and site with the proviso that ‘of taking all possible means against being used for the manufactur­e or sale of intoxicati­ng liquors, or as a theatre or dancing or music hall.’

In 1912 the new Church with Entrance Vestibule, organ, vestry, kitchen and large schoolroom was built to the delight of the congregati­on, the village and the Circuit.

The Twentieth Century saw the continuati­on of a very successful Sunday School with records showing large numbers of young people registerin­g each week. Electricit­y was extended through the Church, alteration­s took place to include a new kitchen and toilets and generally improve the building.

The Church played its part during the WW2. A minute from the Annual Trustees meeting of February 1940 notes ‘proposed and seconded, that Caretaker should be increased by one shilling per week during winter months on account of schoolroom being Ambulance fort and First Aid post. By 1946 it was decided to raise the caretaker’s salary by £2 making it £12.0.0 per year.

In 2012 the there were celebratio­ns for the Centenary of the Church with an exhibition and tea

The Parish Council proposals for the building drawn up by an architect include an entrance foyer, a cafeteria, a function room and toilets. Outside there would be new car parking.

The Parish Council has stated the viewpoint that a village hall operated by the local would provide a safe and comfortabl­e meeting place, creating a hub to provide more local services, offering extensive social and cultural benefits, encouragin­g volunteers to get involved, thereby playing an important function in maintainin­g the building and this involvemen­t would generate a considerab­le wellbeing benefit for those who take part.

The Council also says that a village hall would create a sense of belonging and identity, would combat the risk of social isolation and loneliness and promotes inclusion. and would allow villagers to support their own facility by investing time and effort into activities happening local to them as they know they are making a difference.

Furthermor­e the Parish Council says that a Village Hall can host varied activities that build relationsh­ips and lasting friendship­s and overall improves quality of life.

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