Restoration bid for historic church

Simon Donohue

The Merseyside Building Preservation Trust has acquired the grade 2-listed Welsh Presbyterian Church in Toxteth and plans to oversee its restoration.

The church, derelict for 30 years, was once the tallest building in the city. The trust has secured the boundary of the church, which sits within the Princes Park Conservation Area. Its efforts are being backed by Liverpool City Council.

Funding of £7,000 has been secured from the Architectural Heritage Fund to carry out a feasibility study and options appraisal for the site.

The study is expected to lead to a bid to the Heritage Lottery Fund.

Bill Maynard, chairman of the trust and former Liverpool managing director of Urban Splash, 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."

Cllr Malcolm Kennedy, Liverpool City Council's cabinet member for regeneration, 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."

The Welsh Presbyterian Church was built between 1865 and 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 200ft. It was used as a Non-Conformist Chapel until it fell vacant in the 1980s.

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