Plans are moving ahead to convert All Saints Church, Netherthong into an all-purpose community centre. Space for church worship will be retained but the Netherthong Community Partnership hopes to transform the building into use for local events, meetings and more. Janet Chapman, NCP secretary, said the NCP was formed in the summer of 2019 and now has charitable status. Like many rural churches, All Saints has a small regular congregation but lots of people recently attended a meeting asking for community support, including many from local organisations.
It’s important to mention that during Netherthong’s history, various attempts were made to obtain a village hall/ community centre, ( If you type either word into the search bar, you will get four chapters with the details I was able to find.) The first was in October 1965, when a meeting was held to discuss a Village Hall. Representatives from nine Groups and Organisations attended but there was no follow up or report in the Holmfirth Express( unfortunately an all too common occurrence ). The second related to the Methodist Church in Outlane. In March 1986 , Parish Councillors were proposing that the church, which was no longer in use by the congregation, get a new lease of life as a Community Centre, However as it was a listed building and fell within the Netherthong conservation area, it was instead approved for a change of use to residential. A third attempt was in December 1986, when a Netherthong Community Association was formed and started raising money to provide a Community Centre They planned to build a centre next to the school, raised about £3,000 and needed £100,000 to build it. Once again I couldn’t find any more news about it or what happened to the money raised. The fourth one, in March 1983, was the conversion of No.2 Outlane into a church meeting room , with some restrictions on usage. It was purchased for £6,000. and in 1984, when the conversion was completed, the Bishop of Wakefield and the Rev.J.Capstick dedicated it as the Parish Centre, and it was used by local playgroups, mother and toddler group, Senior Citizens Club, Mothers Union and Sunday School. The usage continued until 2002 when the Parish Church sold the house, and used the money to carry out modifications and improvements to the church, which included an upstairs room for meetings and toilets. The intention was that this would be the forerunner of the NCP.
This latest attempt has captured the imagination and support of the villagers, and the NCP includes members of the church community, several of whom are trustees, including Nick Heaton, the chair of the NCP who is also the Vicar of All Saints, thus ensuring that the church community is happy with any proposed changes. It has a fundraising committee to organise events, and the first one in September was a village fete which raised £1,452. This was followed by a shopping evening in November, which raised £1,150 ( see photo below )
Graham Hoyle and Darren Kitson, owners of the Clothiers Arms, held an annual Harvest Festival. . Locals and villagers all brought donations to the event which raised £1,578. see photo. A treasure hunt from the Cricketers Pub raised £276.
The local Londis shop, directly opposite the church , is run by Warren and Adam Halstead and helps with the raffle prizes, displays the minutes of the NCP meetings and provides a collection point for prizes and donations. The minutes can also be viewed at the two pubs, the Cider Press, as well as on social media. The NCP has been awarded £1,000 from Yorkshire Building Society to help with the removal of pews and conversion work. A grant of £750 was received from Longley Farm Fund to help with a tree survey report and work, and £1,000 has come from the National Lottery to purchase a projector and screen for community use.
Having been researching and writing this history for many,many years, the NCP is fantastic news for the village with many events being planned especially with the Tour of Yorkshire when it comes through the village. It is a beacon of hope. So much of this history is all about what was and is now no longer – Wesleyan and Methodist churches, two public houses, shops, societies, clubs, music events, sports clubs and more.
Unfortunately the arrival of Covid 19 and all the limitations and restrictions that have been imposed , has placed a temporary stop on activities. As I sit here in self-isolation in front of my computer , I know, that once it has been conquered, the NCP will be even more essential to the wellbeing and future of our village and its inhabitants. In the meantime the NCP is offering all sorts of support, see the Hello card below and the prayer on its reverse.
The excellent Free Copy Holme Valley Review in June 2020 published the following photo of the church and commented on the draft architect plans.