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The trustees of Ushaw College announced on 8th October that the seminary would close at the end of the academic year (ie next June) if a development partner could not be found. Presumably this meant that they were looking for some business to take over part of the site and relieve the college of some of the running costs of a large complex of buildings. Following a further meeting of the trustees, who are the bishops of the northern dioceses, under the chairmanship of Archbishop Kelly of Liverpool, it was announced on 14th December that the ancillary businesses including the hosting conferences would cease at the end of December 2010, and that all bookings after this date would have to be cancelled.
By eliminating the conference activities, and the healthy income stream that they generated, the trustees have struck a severe blow at the possibilities of the rescue plan, that, according to their earlier announcement, they were seeking. It seems that this decision was ill judged and taken without regard to the financial consequences. No longer is any mention made of a business partner, although it is known that a proposal has been made.
Ushaw College has very fine buildings, many designed by distinguished architects including members of the Pugin and Hansom families, St Cuthbert’s Chapel and the library being particularly notable. It also occupies a major place in the cultural, religious and educational heritage of the Catholicism in the north of England. Many are dismayed that its future is being dismissed without consultation and that there seems to be scant regard for those who have supported it during the last 200 years.