Historic Chorley church set to be demolished

Chorley United Reformed Church
Chorley United Reformed Church
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An historic Chorley church looks set to be demolished to make way for town centre redevelopments.

The upheaval at Chorley United Reformed Church on Hollinshead Street could be just weeks away.

But the church, which has been on its current site since 1792, will be reborn just up the road.

Church leaders, struggling with repairs and ongoing maintenance costs of the Hollinshead Street church, have been in talks with Chorley Council about a site swap deal for the construction of a new fit-for purpose building.

That would be constructed on part of the council-owned Friday Street car park.

No final decision has been made on the move as yet.

However, with the vast majority of church members in favour of the relocation, it is on the cards.

The church commissioned a report on how to develop its future ambitions to extend the services it offers and had made the decision that it needed a new church building with additional facilities for its expanding outreach programme.

Minister, the Reverend Martin Whiffen, said: “The move, should it go ahead, is likely to take place just after Easter.

“We’re then going to move into premises the council will provide temporarily on Bengal Street and an existing building on Byron Street.

“Building work could start at around Easter.”

The church commissioned a report on how to develop its future ambitions to extend the services it offers and had made the decision that it needed a new church building with additional facilities for its expanding outreach programme.

Minister, the Reverend Martin Whiffen, said: “We have been looking into various options for a number of years now.

“The church building is in need of so much repair, the walls are bowing and have been for years. They haven’t been properly supported and despite successive attempts to buttress them they are still bowing out. The subsidence from mining in the past has taken its toll.”

The Minister added though: “We still haven’t agreed anything. It will provide us with a brand new church and iconic landmark building.

“Once a deal is finally agreed we have to go back to a church meeting because it is the church members who will decide whether we go or not. When we started the process, 84 per cent wanted to do this.

“I think there’s a lot of people in the church who would rather not do this. There’s an awful lot who think it’s the right thing to do. We’re going to lose a very much loved building, but it will enable us to take the church forward massively to expand our work.”

The church already provides help to the homeless and is seeking to boost its work helping the elderly, vulnerable and lonely with a “wrap around care” scheme.

Rev Whiffen explained: “Weekend is the most lonely time for elderly, vulnerable and lonely people. We’re looking to provide breakfast to tea time care on a Sunday in the form of a drop-in where they can come and go as they wish.

“We have funding for a community worker for ten years. We will be investing half a million pounds into Chorley – not just the church, but in Chorley with the work and other things we’re looking to do.”

The move, should it go ahead, is likely to take place just after Easter.

“We’re then going to move into premises the council will provide temporarily on Bengal Street and an existing building on Byron Street,” said Reverend Whiffen.

Building work could start at around Easter, Summer, or even the following Easter.

Reverend Whiffen said: “I can reassure everyone that we will be taking the important parts of the building with us, such as the stained glass, organ, war memorials etc and we plan to create a new memorial garden at the new church so for those who wish, ashes of their loved ones will be reverently disinterred and then reinterred in the new garden as part of a Service of Dedication.”

Councillor Alistair Bradley, Chorley Council leader, said that the church had approached the council with its plans completely independently.

“Having been contacted by them, we were more than happy to try to help them find an alternative site and if a land swap does go ahead, I can’t deny that their current site is an ideal one for us. It is a prime area within our town centre masterplan which we can now look to incorporate into any future development such as the Market Walk extension.”