A former members’ club has re-opened its doors after being transformed into a leading grass-roots organisation’s latest community facility.
St Patrick’s Social Club in Scholes, which shut its doors several years ago, has now been given a new lease of life as the Sunshine House Annexe.
A team from Sunshine House put in a marathon effort to transform the half-derelict rooms into two large function spaces, the biggest of them holding up to 150 people.
Groups including Slimming World have already been enjoying the new building and the venue will play a huge role in the upcoming celebrations for the 80th anniversary of The Road to Wigan Pier being published, which Sunshine House has teamed up with The Orwell Society to put on.
Sunshine House chief officer Barbara Nettleton spoke of her delight at being able to secure the future of the building right next to the organisation’s existing hub on Wellington Street and said it would massively increase the number of community events being offered to Wiganers.
Barbara said: “It was brilliant to take over the club because it gives us more room.
“We’ve had a lot of groups get involved in the last year and some of them would have had to look for bigger premises without this.
“We were also turning people away from some events.
“We therefore made the decision to use a bit a money we had to put the building back to community use, as it should be.
“They used to hold weddings, christenings and funeral wakes here and it’s about bringing the room back for Wigan people.
“We’ve had a lot of comments from people saying they remember events being held at the club. Nearly everyone brought up in the area has a memory of it from somewhere along the line.
“We now want to do a lot more things for young people and put on events like fashion shows. We’ve also got the big Orwell event coming up and that wouldn’t have been possible in the first building.”
Barbara hopes to unveil the new facility with an official launch event in the summer.
Sunshine House got the keys for the building which is now the Annexe last October and was able to open the first part of it in January.
The transformation was achieved thanks to funding amassed by Sunshine House, which was originally backed by Wigan Council’s The Deal when it was setting up and becoming sustainable, over three years of operations.
As the building had been closed for almost five years getting it ready to admit the public again was a big job.
Barbara said: “At first glance we didn’t think it was too bad but when we got in and started to look it was obvious it needed a lot of investment.
“It had to be entirely rewired, we put new lighting in, there were dead cats in the toilets and wasps’ nests in the building.
“The ladies’ toilet had no ceiling at all and there were blocked drains so there was no water, and one room was also flooded.
“Everybody worked their socks off and Bromborough Paints were absolutely brilliant in donating us all the paint we needed, they saved us an absolute fortune.”
Barbara says one of the most exciting opportunities at the social club is to develop the outside space for events in the summer.
A bowling club also runs a green on site and the members have now been given a five-year lease to continue playing the sport.
Plans are also afoot to turn part of the bar area into a fruit and veg shop through a partnership with Newburgh-based organisation Cast North West.
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