CHURCH officials have said the devastating fire that ripped through the hall at Haresfinch URC was "arson".

The blaze engulfed the church hall of the Haresfinch United Reformed Church around 4am on Wednesday, February 28 and caused the roof to cave in and the building to be destroyed.

The church itself, which is situated next door and was connected, has suffered water damage due to the fire.

Bill Wright, interim moderator at the Derwent Road church, said: "The church family were devastated by the news that their much loved and valued church hall had been deliberately burnt to the ground.

"This is an arson, not an electrical fault someone poured accelerant near the door of the hall and set it alight.

"The hall stood there for 82 years and was a huge part of the community.

"This mindless act has left the Derwent Road Playgroup without a home as well as the Parent and Toddler Group, the Guides and Brownies, the St Helens Gospel Choir and Slimming World.

"Its loss is a serious blow to the whole community."

The hall, an all timber building, was built with the help of the community in 1936 and has provided a home for community groups, as well as the church, over the years.

The small congregation will join Ormskirk Street Church for worship on a Sunday morning and will hold their evening service at Newtown URC until further notice.

A joint investigation has now been launched between Merseyside Police and Merseyside Fire and Rescue Service, who are appealing for information on the arson. 

Detective Inspector Matt Smith said: "This was a serious incident, which thankfully did not lead to any injuries or wider damage, but the building has been destroyed and the impact upon those who use it is significant. 

"I would ask anyone who saw any persons in the vicinity, acting suspiciously, or saw the incident itself, to come forward. If you have heard any rumours do the right thing and let us know, either directly or anonymously through Crimestoppers." 

Anyone with information is asked to contact the social media desk @MerPolCC, call 101 quoting reference number 18200046116 or you can call or the independent charity @Crimestoppersuk anonymously, on 0800 555111. 

You can also use their online form at