THE closure of a historic community hub looks imminent as a drama group has been told it can no longer hold a show there.

Lowton Operatic and Dramatic Society (LOADS) has had to cancel its end of year Frankenstein pantomime after being ordered to remove all the costumes and props from The Rose Centre by Sunday.

The building on Hesketh Meadow Lane, which was formerly known as Lowton Civic Hall, looks set to be demolished after no bids were made to run it as an asset of community value.

A planning application to build 36 homes on the site was submitted by MCI Developments in December.

The civic hall has been LOADS' home for more than 50 years and the society is devastated it can no longer hold a farewell show there.

Secretary Steven Jackson said: “This has come as a huge blow to us as we thought we would get the chance to perform at The Rose Centre for a final time.

“It was set to be an emotional night for everyone involved in the drama group as it has been a great home to us over the years.

“We are a month into rehearsals and were really looking forward to the pantomime."

The society's committee held a crisis meeting on Tuesday night in which it decided against trying to find an alternative venue for the pantomime.

It is the first time LOADS has cancelled a show in its history.

Steven added: "Due to the pressure involved with trying to find a different venue we have decided to cancel the pantomime.

"Having to cancel the show is a massive disappointment.

“The group is also panicking as it will be difficult to find a suitable place to store all our costumes and props because there is so much of it.”

He says LOADS member Susan Halton received a text message from the centre's manager yesterday telling her the society has to clear its belongings from the building by the end of this weekend.

Susan first took to the stage at The Rose Centre 51 years ago for a production of The Quaker Girl and has since clocked up more than 100 performances at the community hub.

Steven says LOADS will be refunded the deposit it paid to hold the Frankenstein panto there.

Anyone who has bought tickets to the show will also be refunded in full.

The Journal has been unable to contact the building's owner Rose Leisure for a comment on the latest development.

The centre is steeped in history.

The farmland on Hesketh Meadow Lane was requisitioned by the War Department in 1939.

It was set to become a village with its own chapel, cinema and sick bay to accommodate 600 workers at the munitions factory at Risley Moss.

However in 1942 the plans were changed and it was converted into a land-based ship, known as HMS Cabbala.

The Royal Navy signals training centre attracted recruits from across the country to be trained in top secret methods of sending and receiving codes, especially Morse code.

Around 600 sailors and 60 Wrens boarded the ship until 1946.