St Joseph's Seminary
For 108 years St Joseph's College in Upholland served the Diocese of Liverpool, teaching students the theology and philosophy necessary to reach priesthood. Now the college and chapel buildings stand abandoned, and have recently been deconsecrated by the church. It’s a far cry from the flourishing school that Bishop Bernard O'Reilly set up back in 1880.
The college, upon opening in 1883, consisted of two distinct seminaries, a junior seminary and a senior seminary. The junior seminary was a standard school for boys between the age of 11 and 18, who wished one day to become priests. Whereas the senior seminary taught men over the age of 18 the philosophy and theology they required for priesthood.
From its opening until the mid-1960s the college boomed, training hundreds of priests per year. However in the mid-1960s, due to the changing social attitudes in Britain and their effect on the church, the college started to see a drop in the numbers of people enrolling.
The drop in numbers continued throughout the 1970s, leading the church to consolidate its activities. St Joseph’s College in Upholland would continue to function as a junior seminary, but would no longer perform the role of senior seminary – that would now be performed exclusively by another nearby college.
The declining student numbers continued to dwindle, and the last year that the college taught pupils was 1992. The church had made the decision was made to sell the college, and its 153 acre site, on to the property developers, Anglo International. Anglo International submitted plans to turn the college into private apartments and a hotel – the dormitory rooms proving adequate for such a function. The plans were rejected by the council however, and ever since the college was remained empty, without a future purpose.
Today, there is around the clock security at the college, with a guard based on site 24 hours a day. The perimeter of the college is surrounded by two metre security fencing, with the building itself heavily alarmed.
In late 2016, the seminary and its grounds were purchased for 19 million pounds. What the buyer intends to do with the college is unknown, but due to its Grade II listed status, the building cannot be knocked down.