Building of the Month March 2023: Eccleston Park Golf Club, Rainhill Road, St Helens, The Wirral, L35 4PG
The Eccleston Park Golf Club's clubhouse was built in the 1880s and is unlisted. It is the last remaining building on the Rainhill County Asylum (later Rainhill Hospital) site, except for a handful of residential houses along the main road built for hospital staff. The building was originally the farmhouse on the asylum's second farm (the current golf course was the farmland) and its associated outbuildings and stables have been converted to residential use and are known as Ryder Court. Other listed elements were regrettably demolished in the 1990s.
The golf course closed in 2018 and was subject to a planning application to build up to 1,000 news homes on the site - P/2020/0791/HYEIA. This application was refused in early 2022 mainly on the basis of concerns about building on the Green Belt. The proposals had generated considerable local objection as the plans contravened St Helens Council's new Local Plan and Green Belt Review which stated that the golf course site should be 'safeguarded' from any development until 2035.
Although it does now appear that the site is safe for the time being from extensive redevelopment, it is not at all clear what will happen to these last and valuable remnants of the site's hospital-related history and subsequent reinvention as a place of recreation.