Village Halls (The)
The buildings were not purpose-built. In 1870 Samuel Morley bought the Hall Place estate and his daughter came with him to Leigh. She was concerned to find that, although there was a small meeting house in the village where the Methodist Free Church held meetings, only very rarely was the Lord’s Supper celebrated. She persuaded her father to put up a tent near the girls’ school in Powder Mill Lane where Gospel meetings and children’s services were conducted and the membership grew. The tent had to come down in the autumn and preaching was carried out in the Reading Room in Oak Cottage which had been opened by Samuel Morley to try to stop the workmen who were rebuilding Hall Place from going to the pubs. Although he was a Congregationalist he supported his daughter’s work and decided to transfer the Baronial Hall from Hall Place to the Village. At a cost of £1,295, this formed the present large village hall, which is why it has its gothic windows and timbered roof. It was only intended for gospel work, so worship was held in the little old chapel which had formerly been a slaughter house. Subsequently, Mr Morley built the Sunday School Room, which is the present small village hall, and a baptistery, which is now the Royal British Legion Club Room – all for £800.
After Samuel Morley died, support for the Chapel fell and, by the end of the 19th century, it was no longer needed and was used as a village hall. A small corrugated iron chapel was built behind the halls in 1907 for non-conformist services, but this ceased to attract a congregation and was burnt down in 1982.
In 1952 the halls were transferred to The Morley Trust and in 1952 the Trust gave them to the Village Hall Management Committee, with the Parish Council as Custodian Trustee. And that is when the fund-raising began. Currently (2006) a major refurbishment is underway with grants from a variety of sources.
Parish Magazine Article: Apr 2005: by Janet Court