Wymondham hall gets major revamp

Stephanie BrooksA programme of major refurbishment is well underway to transform a 'shabby' 1960s public hall into a venue fit for the 21st century.Stephanie Brooks

A programme of major refurbishment is well underway to transform a 'shabby' 1960s public hall into a venue fit for the 21st century.

After two years of fund-raising and planning, the Central Hall in Wymondham is about five months away from welcoming visitors to its brand new facilities.

The hall, which had been left largely untouched since its opening more then 40 years ago, was becoming unsafe for public use by the time it closed for the work to begin last October.

And with the construction of the modern Wymondham Library next door in 2008, the dated building was really beginning to look its age.

But thanks to the efforts of the Wymondham Central Hall Trust, who managed to secure about �900,000 for the project, an extensive revamp is taking place with the help of town architects Lucas Hickman Smith.

The work includes the expansion of its bar and kitchen, roof repairs, the provision of a modern reception area, new toilets, easier access for people with disabilities, improvements to the interior layout and acoustics, as well as a complete redecoration.

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The scheme has been mostly funded through a mortgage loan from the Clydesdale Bank, which will be repaid from income collected from the hall's car park.

Money already raised by the car park, as well as grants received from the Community Sustainable Energy Programme, which paid for ground source heat pump equipment, The Garfield Weston Trust, The Geoffrey Watling Trust, Norfolk Rural Community Council and Wymondham Town Council, have also helped pay for the project.

The trust is expecting the refurbishment to be complete by October ready for a grand re-opening in November.

Neville Coultas, chairman of the Wymondham Central Hall Trust, said members were looking forward to the long-awaited day.

He said: 'Raising the funds and particularly securing the bank loan has been an enormous task. We had to wade through so many hoops to do that which held us up for a while. We had a budget and we had to make sure the plans fit in with what we could afford.

'It's been a tremendous amount of work which for a team of volunteers is such a big task.'

The trust is looking for volunteers to join its management committee. Anyone interested is welcome to attend the trust's annual general meeting on June 24, at 7.30pm, in the Catholic Hall, or call Neville Coultas on 01953 602900.