The church hall where Paul McCartney first met John Lennon 44 years ago has fallen victim to an arsonist. It took firefighters just under two hours to control the blaze at St. Peter's Church Hall in Woolton, Liverpool, after being alerted at 11.15 pm. last evening. Merseyside fire brigade spokesman Mike Harris reports: "When we got there the lecture room was well alight. There was fire damage to the roof and floor. The adjoining hall suffered smoke damage. It took the crews about 90 minutes to bring it under control. It is being treated as suspected arson." The lecture room was badly damaged, but the main part of the hall, including the stage where the historic meeting took place, suffered only smoke damage, having been protected by a locked green door. The door linking the two rooms was partly burned through, but kept the worst of the flames at bay. According to Rector of St Peter's, Canon John Roberts: "Luckily, the door was closed otherwise the whole building would have gone up. The fire brigade reckon that within another 20 minutes the whole lot would have gone up in flames."
You may recall that the church had been planning to refurbish the church hall, a project which included the removal of the famous stage. (see June 12 below) The church plans to sell the stage at auction, however the Liverpool council is hoping to keep the it in the city as a tourist attraction. Canon Roberts said: "We have been given the go-ahead to get the best price for the stage. We are legally obliged to sell it. We can't give it away. We have 450 people who use the hall each week, and we need the space that a modernized hall will give us. The refurbishment will still go ahead."
(kindly submitted by PLUGGED correspondent Joan M. Hopkins)
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