It’s double celebrations for Wath Hall as not only is 2020 its 250th anniversary, but its future has now been secured thanks to the generosity and pledges of the local community.
Following a six-year campaign, Wath Hall Preservation Society Ltd have recently bought the Georgian mansion from Rotherham Council after raising the funds needed to purchase the building through shares and donations.
The project has been a unique one, with nothing like it in nature, scale or ambition. Wath residents were given the chance to own a piece of their past by investing in shares and, combined with donations, the preservation society managed to raise £93,000 from the community. This figure was matched by the Community Shares Booster Programme enabling them to buy the building at long last.
Originally built in 1770 as a private residence, the resplendent dove-white building became Wath’s Town Hall from 1892 to 1974 when it was then taken over by the council. They moved out in 2011 and the building has remained empty since 2014.
Fearing it would run into disrepair, or worse still bought up by developers and demolished, a group of four local men created the registered charity, Wath Hall Ltd, in 2014 in a bid to save this magnificent building and give it a purpose it deserved. They have been campaigning to save it ever since and are proud their devotion to the cause has finally paid off.
The future of Wath Hall
But the acquisition is just the start. There is extensive work to be done before they can open, with the building needing roof repairs, rewiring and a new heating system. Once structurally sound, the plan is to create a creative community enterprise and turn the building into an arts and heritage centre with regeneration at the heart.
Community groups will be encouraged to use the space as well as people holding public events. There will also be small office units available to let and the possibility of a credit union facility in partnership with the Citizens Advice Bureau.
At Aroundtown we have followed the Wath Hall journey over the last six years and are delighted that this gem of a building will finally be given the redevelopment and recognition it deserves. A huge well done to everyone involved.
You can follow the project at www.wathhall.co.uk