Liverpool FC has bid a fond farewell to its historic Melwood Training Ground and officially handed the site over to its new owner, transformation group, Torus.
Torus, a leading housebuilder and social landlord, acquired the club’s Melwood Training Ground site in West Derby back in August 2019. During the disposal process, Torus was identified as the best socially responsible housing developer to take over the site. The growth and regeneration group currently manages around 40,000 homes across the north west, creating sustainable and thriving communities through investing financially and socially into its neighbourhoods.
Melwood has been the club’s training base for over seventy years. It was transformed into a top-class training facility in the 1950’s by Bill Shankly, where players would meet and change for training at Anfield and then board the team bus for the short trip to Melwood. In January 2001, the club started work on the Millennium Pavilion, a modern facility for players and coaches, with further developments and investment year on year to ensure the facilities and equipment within remain the best possible and making the training ground what it is today.
Following the club’s departure of the site, Torus intend to redevelop the current site into a modern, multi-generational housing complex that will meet the current and future needs of local residents by building a variety of house types on the site, which will be available via affordable rented and homeownership options, such as Shared Ownership with an emphasis on meeting the needs of older and vulnerable people.
On the handover of the facility, Andy Hughes, Managing Director, Liverpool Football Club said: “When the famous sliding gate closes for the last time, it will mark the ending of an era for the club.
“It’s been over two years since we started this journey and we’d like to thank everyone who has been involved, particularly local residents in West Derby for their patience during this process.
“It is with heavy heart that we bid a fond farewell to Melwood – our training base for the last seventy years. However, it will always be engrained in the rich tapestry of the club. “For many it will be strange not to use this familiar word when referring to the first team base, but the new AXA Training Centre is world-class and will soon start to create many more chapters of success.”
LIVERPOOL.UK. 19.02.1977. Ian Callaghan salutes the Anfield Road end as LFC manager Bob Paisley applauds, in recognition of his Cally’s 800th appearance for the Reds, in a game v Derby County.
Callaghan ended his career for Liverpool in 1978, with 857 appearances, 69 goals, an MBE and four England caps. A legend.
Ian Callaghan, former LFC player with the most appearances: “The name ‘Melwood’ has become equally synonymous with Liverpool Football Club as that of Anfield. This fact alone says so much about the contribution the training ground has made to the club’s development over the past seven decades, during which time Melwood became the very ‘nerve centre’ of the first team.
“It evokes such fond memories for all the former players who have passed through its doors but also for the fans. Whilst it’s a bittersweet day for the club, we will always look back on Melwood with fondness and respect.”
On the future of Melwood, Chris Bowen, Managing Director of Torus Developments, said: “Today indeed marks a new era for Melwood, one which goes beyond football and an era we’re excited to lead. The legacy of this great site is important to us and that partly drove our ambition to be involved in the project.
“Research and community consultation carried out so far shows there is a clear need for homes which meet specific needs in the area, such as homes for older people, more affordable housing options for those looking to get on the property ladder and even homes for those looking to downsize.
“We are still working with our architects, Corstorphine + Wright, to finalise the design of the site and are pleased to be able to present a proposal today for the next phase of public consultation leading up to a planning application early in 2021. We will be looking to repurpose the existing building to provide a long-lasting legacy as a community hub and link with a range of charities to provide housing, care and support services on the site. It is our intention to conserve as much greenspace as possible and also incorporate innovative, green technologies to create a modern development that will make the future of Melwood as ground-breaking as its history.”