The Chapel was built in 1882 by John Corfield, grandfather of David Corfield who, up until recently, farmed in Belton Road, Whitchurch. It is in the same style as the Brownlow Centre just along Claypit Street, and the Old Fire Station in Brownlow Street. That is, the bottom half is red brick while the top half is in ‘black and white’ timber….
In the days of the ‘Workhouse’ it was in constant use as a place for baptisms, weddings and funerals for those from the workhouse. Each Sunday afternoon, services were held at 2.30pm. The clients were frogmarched over to the chapel by Mrs. Hind, the matron. The services were conducted by Rev’d Allen, curate from the parish church and the harmonium was played by a member of the present committee. As many in the congregation could not read, the hymns were recognised by their tunes. This led to some difficulty as some hymns had the same tunes!
The Chapel was where the tramps of the area would congregate on a Friday afternoon in order to find a place of lodging in the Workhouse for the weekend.
In later years, the building was used to treat patients undergoing physiotherapy and as a general store for hospital equipment.
The ambitious project to transform the building into a healthy living centre was first discussed in 1996 when the chapel closed. Local people began to raise funds to refurbish the building which had been sadly neglected with the ceiling collapsing and damp in-situ. Whitchurch Community Services Association, a registered charity, was set up in 1998. The hard work of local fund-raisers came to fruition when a grant from the New Opportunities Lottery Fund (now the Big Lottery Fund) finally allowed refurbishment to go ahead. The refurbishment was completed by Michael Healey and Sons, a local contractor.
The Centre opened to the public on 1st October 2003 offering a range of activities and facilities. The opening ceremony was performed by Shropshire Primary Care Trust Chairwoman Liz Owen and New Opportunity Fund representative, Olympic gold medalist, Geoff Thompson MBE on 20th November 2003.
In July 2012 work started on a further refurbishment and extension to create the cafe; new reception area; better toilet facilities; refurbished counselling rooms and an upstairs office. The main entrance was moved to the side and the old entrance became the back door to the kitchen. The “new” centre was officially opened by Owen Patterson MP on 11th January 2013. We have to extend our grateful thanks to our funders:
- The Big Lottery local Food programme,
- Shropshire Council,
- Bradbury Foundation Trust,
- The Roy Fletcher Charitable Trust and
- The Walker Trust.
If you are interested in reading the blog about the works and seeing a photo diary, please click here. The blog has the most recent post at the top.