Community launches crowdfunding campaign to buy historic Halfway House on The Wrekin

A group of volunteers are launching an ambitious campaign to raise money to secure a historic Shropshire landmark for future generations.

Campaigner from left, Dr Caroline Freeman, Kim Bennett, Councillor Jacqui Seymour, Jenny Joy, Pauline Kesek, David Brown, Anthony Lowe, Amy Joy, Dr Roger Joy and Daniel Freeman
Campaigner from left, Dr Caroline Freeman, Kim Bennett, Councillor Jacqui Seymour, Jenny Joy, Pauline Kesek, David Brown, Anthony Lowe, Amy Joy, Dr Roger Joy and Daniel Freeman

It is hoped that the Halfway House on The Wrekin, recently put up for sale, will become a community hub for people to enjoy.

Halfway House has provided refreshments to thousands of walkers over its 150-year history as a café and has undergone a major transformation by its current owner Sean Saward with a recently restored kiosk and café pavilion, outdoor seating area and gardens on a site that commands a stunning view.

The business is gradually reopening after being closed due to the pandemic, providing a takeaway service and use of its garden for customers, and has again started supporting fundraising events such as sponsored walks up The Wrekin.

Stopping off for refreshments in days gone by

Campaigners are determined for the building to retain its important role in serving residents and visitors with refreshments and would like to see the site developed as a visitor centre, providing new opportunities for events, camping, outdoor pursuits and nature talks.

They say it could provide a range of classes from art to orienteering together with extra accommodation.

The campaign's organisers want to see a return of maypole dancing, Victorian swing boats and dancing events for which the Halfway House was famed in the early 20th century.

This large tree still stands outside Halfway House today

Jenny Joy, who has run the café and helped to restore the pavilion over the past three years, has gathered together a team of supporters including former Mayor of Wellington, Anthony Lowe, local GP Caroline Freeman, borough councillor Jacqui Seymour, Pauline Kesek and Kim Bennett who are both regular Wrekin visitors and members of Wrekin Road Runners.

They have set up a community interest company (CIC) to spearhead this not-for-profit campaign over the next few years.

“The Wrekin is one of Shropshire’s most iconic places and the Halfway House has been a favourite place for locals and visitors for many generations,” said Jenny, who has resumed the running of the café’s kiosk after lockdown.

Dr Freeman added: “The surrounding area is one of the most important conservation sites in Shropshire with its ancient woodland, unusual birdlife, butterflies, heathland, owl life and much more.

Victorian swingboats outside Halfway House which campaigners want to see returned

“Thousands of people have walked past the Halfway House on their way to the top of The Wrekin for many years.

"From the 1,355ft (407m) summit they have enjoyed spectacular views across the Shropshire countryside.”

Pauline, chair of Wrekin Road Runners, said: “We don’t want to lose this wonderful asset.

"That is why we are today launching this crowdfunding campaign to buy this beautiful and historic site for the benefit of the community and for future generations.”

Halfway House has attracted visitors over the centuries

With the Halfway House already on the open market, campaigners say it is important to act fast.

Donations can be made via the page 'Secure the Halfway House for the community' through the platform Go Fund Me at gofund.me/ec1cdd60.

The fundraisers are also keen to involve as many members of the community as possible in their campaign.

They are encouraging anyone interested in organising their own fundraising events to support the cause to contact the team at info@halfwayhouseonthewrekin.com.

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