Dismay as popular hall is set to close

Exterior of Formby Hall
Exterior of Formby Hall

A POPULAR venue will shut down in just a few weeks’ time in news which has rocked community groups and residents.

Formby Hall, one of Atherton’s most popular large venues and the home of high-profile events such as the Bent ‘n’ Bongs Beer Bash, is set to close its doors for the last time at the end of July.

The bombshell, which is yet to be officially confirmed by the hall’s previous owners Rose Leisure, has devastated organisations which use the hall, who say they may be forced out of the area and could fold completely.

The venue’s future is now completely shrouded in mystery, as Rose Leisure has not revealed who the new owners are or what their plans may be.

The manner of the discovery of the development has also caused anger, with the closure only coming to light this week after Lynne Pasquill, who has run a jive dance group at Formby Hall for 12 years, rang up to manage her bookings.

She said: “They told me it had been sold and it would no longer be a public venue. They won’t tell me anything about it, they just said I had to be out by the end of July.

“I’m appalled, it’s a travesty. I thought the hall was for the use of the Atherton people. I also think it’s dreadful it’s been kept so quiet and we’ve been left in the dark.

“My business will have to move and there’s a chance I could lose it. I’m looking at having to go to Lowton and I just don’t know if people will follow me there.”

Norman Bradbury, a founder member of the Formby Hall Community Trust which previously tried to buy the venue when it was owned by Wigan Council, also strongly criticised the sale.

Mr Bradbury said: “A lot of groups who will have to move out of Formby Hall will have to go to another town because there’s nothing else like this in Atherton.

“It’s also the home of major events in the calendar. When we put our bid in we were assured its future was safe in the hands of Rose Leisure, and all of a sudden it seems it’s going to be shut down.

“I’m extremely annoyed. If we had been successful in our bid it wouldn’t be shutting,”

Other organisations who use the hall have also had verbal confirmation of the closure.

Tony Smith, vice chairman of Wingates Band, said it was a sad day as brass ensembles had played there for decades.

It is believed bookings had already been taken for events throughout the autumn, including one organised by the Atherton Business Partnership, and many of these now look likely to be cancelled.

Groups which have spoken to Rose Leisure since news of the impending closure broke say deposits for events after the end of July are in the process of being returned.

Rose Leisure was unavailable for comment.