Brighter future for historic church

An historic Liverpool building which was once the tallest in the city – and which has been derelict for the last 30 years – is about to begin a new era.

Significant steps forward have been taken in securing the future of the Grade II listed Welsh Presbyterian Church on Princes Road in Toxteth, so that it can be restored and brought back into meaningful use.

The project is being led by the Merseyside Building Preservation Trust – a charity dedicated to the restoration of historic buildings – with the support of the city council. The Trust has acquired the building, which sits within the Princes Park Conservation Area, and has already secured its boundary with new durable fencing.

Now, the Trust has secured funding from the Architectural Heritage Fund to carry out a feasibility study and options appraisal for the site – a major milestone in breathing new life into the building. A team of professionals with expertise in bringing historic buildings back into use will look at the current structural stability of the church, and consult with the local community and businesses over potential future uses.

It is anticipated that the report will take three months to complete, and will help the Trust secure further funding for the full refurbishment of the building, in partnership with a developer partner/
end-user.

Chair of the Trust, Bill Maynard, said: “This is an exciting opportunity to begin the regeneration of such an iconic building in the Liverpool 8 area, and we will be seeking the views of the community as part of the appraisal process.

“This is a true partnership approach between ourselves, Liverpool City Council, and Architectural Heritage Fund, and I am confident that our strong partnership will deliver the refurbishment project successfully.

“Following the options appraisal, the Trust will be seeking an end user who can secure the long term and sustainable use of this important building. If all goes well, we hope to submit an application for grant aid from the Heritage Lottery Fund early in 2015.”

Liverpool City Council’s Cabinet Member for Regeneration, Councillor Malcolm Kennedy, said: “The Welsh Presbyterian Church is an important part of Liverpool’s heritage, so it’s fantastic to see these major steps being taken to bring it back into use.

“The building has lain empty for too long, but it can finally look forward to a brighter future, thanks to this vital work getting underway. Working together, we can give the church a new lease of life, protect its future and make it a hub of activity once more.

“This is the start of a new, positive chapter in the building’s history. It’s great news for the local community, and great news for Liverpool.”

The Welsh Presbyterian Church was built between 1865-67 by W and G Audsley. The pair are considered masters of Victorian design and the church is one of a number of outstanding landmarks they created in Liverpool.

When the church was opened in 1868, it was the tallest building in Liverpool, at 61 metres (200 feet). It was used as a Non-Conformist Chapel until it fell vacant in the 1980s.