Atherton Cemetery Friends and Heritage group are keenly aware of the local and national significance of our two cemetery chapels. Unfortunately, these buildings have lain empty since the 1970s and greatly deteriorated, although the lodge has been restored and it is now a private residence.
ACFH have a particular interest in working towards ensuring these two chapels are protected, ideally restored and brought back to some form of community use. We have approached the council who are supporting us in exploring if an asset transfer of the chapels for community use would be possible. We have begun our business plan and set our aims going forward for the next three years. Our chapels are in significant disrepair- needing restoration and funding before we can then make a case that they will be used and can run self sufficiently. Asset transfer is also not a certainty but we can only give it our best!
ACFH hope you might feel the cause a worthy one to support via a donation to this crowdfunder.
The Friends Group hope to raise enough community support, donations in kind and funding to see the restoration of the chapels and their return to use for and by the community.
The group are grateful to support from the National Cemetery Friends, Wigan Council, The Deal, Friends of Hindley Cemetery and our town councillors.
Atherton Cemetery was founded after the Burial Act of 1855 and it was officially opened in February 1857. One of the main features of the Cemetery are the two mortuary chapels and the gatehouse which were constructed in 1856 to designs by Thomas Denville Barry. Barry designed numerous other cemetery buildings in the North West region, including chapels at St Helens, Toxteth, Heywood, Preston and Lower Ince (previously Wigan). Atherton’s cemetery buildings are among rare survivals of Barry’s work where all the buildings survive and they are listed in Pevsner’s ‘Buildings of England’. All the chapels at Preston were demolished and only one chapel survives at St Helens, Toxteth and Lower Ince respectively. One of Heywood’s surviving pairs was gutted in an arson attack in February 2021.
According to a condition survey carried out by Wigan Council in 2018, the roofs would cost £24,000 to repair and a further £20,000 would be needed to rectify structural damage in order to protect the chapels. This would not see the buildings in a fit state for use at that point but would go a great way to preserve the structures. If we are successful in achieving asset transfer a full structural survey will be carried out to assess the extent of works needed and costings will be shared. We will, as a group, be seeking additional external funding to see the structures repaired and restored to working order and celebrating its architectural importance but we will need to evidence the community are behind our plans both in spirit and financially via crowdfunding.
As actual costs are known we will communicate these and report on planned works.
Thanks to Colin Ellison for photography and Thomas McGrath for historical research.