New Owners for Penkhull Village Hall

The efforts of local volunteers in the village of Penkhull near Stoke-on-Trent were rewarded in December when a new Community Trust took over the ownership of the local village hall with a little help from the Duchy of Lancaster.

The hall was built in 1845 and originally served as a school for the poor. Set up by the Church of England, it was the responsibility of a Trust held in the name of the then vicar and churchwardens of St Thomas’ Church.  It continued to function as a school building until 1993 when St Peter’s High School left the premises and volunteers from the church relaunched it as a community centre. However, under the terms of the historic Trust, ownership of the building was dependent on its continued use as a school.

After some investigation, local volunteers discovered that the failed Trust had in fact reverted to the Duchy of Lancaster. They therefore contacted the Duchy who offered to transfer the property to a properly constituted community charity for a nominal £1 consideration.

In response, a group of volunteers who had been running the hall as a community centre came together to create Penkhull Village Hall Community Trust (PVHCT). While awaiting the legal transfer of ownership the members of the PVHCT set about restoring and renovating the premises ready to relaunch it when the process completed at the beginning of December 2020.

Commenting on the campaign to secure the hall for the future, PVHCT Chairman Mike Allen said: “Everyone has worked so hard over the last six years to make this a reality. We are very grateful to the Duchy of Lancaster for their support which effectively paved the way for the transfer of ownership. We now have a facility that is fit-for-purpose and which reinforces the sense of community that makes this village such a special place to live. The building will live on as a community hub for Penkhull and we look forward to working with residents to develop a programme of activities suitable for all.”

Although not part of the Duchy of Lancaster estates, Penkhull was a Royal Manor from the time of William the Conqueror until the reign of Edward II in 1308.  At the turn of the 18th century it was developed by Josiah Spode II as a dormitory suburb of Stoke-on-Trent.