East Bedlington Community Centre
Value: £1.1 million | Completed: March 2017
Brims Construction was appointed as Principal Contractor in July 2016 by The Trustees of East Bedlington Community Centre to undertake the comprehensive restoration and refurbishment of the former 1886 Co-operative Hall in Bedlington Station to provide community theatre, event space and ancillary facilities.
The project was supported by the Big Lottery Fund. The Trustees were awarded £845,715 from Big Lottery Reaching Communities (Buildings). It was the third largest award to be made in England and the largest single amount for Northumberland. The award was the final piece of the capital fund jigsaw, with funding from East Bedlington Parish Council (£450,000) and the Coal Industry Social Welfare Organisation (CISWO) (£48,500).
The Centre is managed by a committee of local people, supported by East Bedlington Parish Council who act as Custodian Trustees. The works that were required to bring the centre back into use were spread across three floors and included:
- Extension and alteration works to the existing ground floor community centre
- Re-roofing, repair and renewal to damaged roof structures
- Renewing fenestration, surface water systems
- Brick / stone re-pointing and repair
- New mezzanine floor
- New passenger lift
- New full M&E services renewal
- Redecoration works
The redevelopment of the lower floor provided improved office accommodation, as well as public access IT facilities, a refurbished kitchen and meeting space. New activity space has been created for youth facilities and indoor bowls along with an eight-person passenger lift accessing all three floors to meet DDA requirements. The refurbishment works to the existing community centre on the ground floor were undertaken whilst the centre remained in use.
The second floor area was redeveloped to create ‘Platform 1’ – a refurbished ballroom that has been converted into a state of the art licensed music venue that will provide a multi-use space including community theatre and cinema. The works also included the refurbishment of the existing stage and green room facilities along with a new licensed community café. In addition a new mezzanine level was created providing a seating/meeting area and additional storage and office accommodation.
The project design team including Hugh Massey Architects, Taylor Design, Artis Consulting Ltd and structural engineers BDN produced a design which ensured the sympathetic restoration of the original features of the building whilst creating an energy efficient and environmentally friendly flagship development. Rescued from disuse in 2011 the centre is now extensively updated and is run solely by volunteers. It offers a wide range of facilities ideal for live music, dance and theatre events, family celebrations, classes, meetings or conferences.
The works were successfully completed on time, on budget and to the highest quality standards ensuring it will be retained for community use for decades to come. The community centre now offers activities over three floors and also contains a licensed community café. The original dance hall floor dating back to 1886 has been recovered and a state-of-the-art sound and light system has been installed. Other attractions for local organisations include a light and spacious activity room and a meeting room.