Future of two listed and derelict Victorian chapels in Wigan borough cemetery still uncertain
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There were high hopes in 2019 that work could start on restoring the Grade II-listed Waterhouse Chapels in Ince Cemetery thanks to a £100k cash boost.
But four years later, and with no work having taken place, questions are being asked by local heritage groups about what had happened to the restoration project.
Now Wigan Council has said the investment it originally pledged four years ago is not enough to make the buildings water tight and secure. Instead, it is hoping to support the setting up of a "friends" group to apply for more funding.
A spokesperson for Wigan Council said: “The Waterhouse Chapels in Ince Cemetery are important not just for their architectural qualities but also for the position they hold as public works of architect Alfred Waterhouse.
“In 2019 some funding was allocated to address some of the issues affecting the chapels, including removal of some vegetation and exploratory works.
“During these exploratory works it became apparent that the sum of money allocated would not be sufficient to repair the chapels. The intention is therefore to use the allocated sum to help leverage additional funding from external sources.
“The council is aware of the public interest in the chapels and recognises the importance of the local community in shaping the proposals for their restoration.
“We are actively working to support the creation of a community-based ‘friends’ group that will be able to shape proposals and apply for funding to secure the chapels’ future.”
The two buildings were built in 1855, one was for the Church of England and one for Roman Catholics. Over recent years though, the buildings have deteriorated and trees have sprouted through the roofs.
The chapel in use for cremations today is at Lower Ince Cemetery. The two at risk are at the much older Ince-in-Makerfield cemetery, which is closed to new plots.
The chapels are the work of Alfred Waterhouse, an esteemed Victorian architect who also created the Museum of Wigan Life in Wigan town centre, Manchester Town Hall and London’s Natural History Museum.