A local group has concluded a deal to acquire the former Wath Town Hall in Rotherham so that it can be used as a community hub.
In 2018, Rotherham Council was presented with an option that would enable the building to be used for the benefit of the local community by a community interest group.
The proposal was unanimously approved and Wath Hall Preservation Society Ltd, a single purpose vehicle, and Wath Hall Ltd, current custodians, have been working hard to put together a business plan and funding bids alongside efforts to raise the required cash.
The core building is a Georgian mansion, which can be traced back to its construction in the 1770s. The Town Hall has been a Council owned property for over 100 years, firstly as the Town Hall for Wath Urban District Council and latterly as a branch office. It closed in 2011 and in 2015, the Council declared that the hall was surplus to requirements and its future became uncertain.
Now the preservation society has successfully completed the purchase of the Georgian mansion and its grounds from Rotherham Council.
Raising £90,000 through a community share offer provided the match funding to secure an extra £90,000 as the purchase and a basic programme of repairs to start to bring the hall back into use will cost at least £180,000.
Alan Sherriff MBE, chairman of Wath Hall Preservation Society Limited, said: “Together with the charity Wath Hall Limited, our six-year campaign to secure it for the people of Wath has succeeded in the Hall’s 250th anniversary year, a remarkable achievement! I am profoundly grateful for your patient support and encouragement throughout the negotiations to buy Wath Hall.
“Our exciting and vital venture is unique to Rotherham and South Yorkshire. There is nothing like it in nature, scale or ambition. It was local folk like you who raised the cash to buy the freehold, investing your money in Wath Hall Preservation Society community shares. You have bought Wath Hall and its beautiful surroundings to safeguard the future for Wath through the formation of a creative community enterprise. Community and economic regeneration are at the very heart of our project.”
The building still needs roof repairs, electrical re-wiring and a new heating system installed before it can operate as an arts and heritage centre, holding public events, facilitating community groups and housing local small businesses.
Images: Wath Hall Preservation Society