Yet another call to ‘Save Moody Hall’
The Chronicle has attempted to contact the owner of Moody Hall in Congleton amid growing concern that the one-time school that belonged to the town's suffragist Elizabeth Wolstenholme Elmy risks “decaying to the point of collapse”.
Elizabeth's Group has announced a heritage trail through the town to honour the women's rights campaigner's memory, which includes the dilapidated hall.
As previously reported campaigners have suggested the Moody Street building could be transformed into a heritage centre.
Mrs Wolstenholme Elmy was headmistress at the school and lived at Moody Hall in the late 1800s. It is now derelict and boarded up since its last use as a care home ended when Chapel House, as it was previously called, closed in 2014.
In response to an article in last week's edition giving details of Elizabeth's Group's new heritage trail, Congleton resident Michael Knowles said the loss of Moody Hall would be “totally dreadful”. He said the five councillors who represent the Moody Street area should be aware of the hall's significance and it was their responsibility to help prevent its further deterioration.
The Land Registry lists the owner as Birmingham-based company Ownitshareit whose director is Bhavinder Singh Tamber, of Wolverhampton. The Chronicle has not been able to contact him this week.
Registry documents show that the building was bought for £365,000 in May 2016.
A covenant included in a transfer of the land back in 1988, made between Henwal Properties and Brian Peter Wolfenden and Theresa Frances Wolfenden, stated that “no noisy, offensive or dangerous pursuit shall be carried out on the land hereby transferred nor any trade or pursuit which may be or become in any way a nuisance annoyance or danger to the owners or occupiers of any neighbouring property or which may tend to depreciate the value of the retained land”.
Mr Knowles reiterated Elizabeth's Group’s concerns about the state of Moody Hall which it described as “looking quite sad” and went further by saying: “It is in an absolutely dreadful condition. Its frontage has boasted two broken windows for almost two years, letting in cold and rain, which must be rotting its structure and its floors.
“And if anyone wants to have a view of colossal, almost incredible, neglect, all they need to do is walk round to the back of it. Its back yard, once a garden, is now an awful-looking rubbish dump. And two dozen at least of its windows, some of them big, stare back at you, broken and ugly. It is utterly deplorable.
“The inside of Moody Hall must now be rotting at such a speed it may be past repair and restoration. I only hope not.”
He added: “I believe that access to it is not the sole property of the owner, but that he/she is restricted in respect of it by someone else owning a ransom strip around the building. If true, we need to know who and why.”
A covenant with the transfer of land in 1988 mentions “not to park nor to permit or suffer to be parked motor or other vehicles of any description on or obstruct in anyway the land coloured yellow and green on the said plan except for temporary periods for the purposes of loading and unloading”.
Mr Knowles mentions by name the councillors whose West Ward includes Moody Hall. He said: “But what we do know from Google is the names and email address of the councillors who represent the West Ward of the town council, namely Couns Suzanna Akers Smith, Dawn Allen and Martin Amies; and the councillors who represent the West Ward on the Cheshire East Council, namely Suzanna Akers Smith, George Hayes and Sally Ann Holland.
“I am saying the obvious when I state that it is their responsibility first and foremost; all five of them. They should - surely they should – be aware of the significance of Moody Hall in the town and be doing something about it. But are they even aware of its existence?
What are they elected for? But it is also the responsibility of the Cheshire East Council itself.”
The Chronicle has contacted the councillors for comment but they had not responded by deadline yesterday (Wednesday).
In Elizabeth’s Group's latest lockdown video announcing plans for the heritage trail, trustee Heather Watson, referring to Moody Hall, said: “It's a pity that the town is possibly going to lose that building. It would've been ideal to have kept that as some sort of heritage centre. It's to be hoped that maybe there's somebody out there who'll put some pressure on or some money forward to try and help save that site in remembrance of Elizabeth.”