Wirksworth parish room seeks renovation funds in public vote

The parish room already hosts regular orchestra rehearsals, but volunteers hope to open it up for wider usage.
The parish room already hosts regular orchestra rehearsals, but volunteers hope to open it up for wider usage.

Plans are afoot to transform a vital community space in Wirksworth - if the necessary funding can be secured in a nationwide online vote.

Refurbishment work on the town’s parish room is one of hundreds of projects competing for support from the Aviva Community Fund.

To pay for renovation of the 200-year-old wood floor, the committee of volunteers who run the facility estimate they need around £7,250 - and that will help them generate more income for further projects.

Committee spokesman Dave Brown said: “At the moment the floor is too uneven, broken up, and full of splinters. It presents a trip hazard which restricts its usage.

“If we can get it repaired, we can open the room up to dance groups, yoga, pilates and host bigger children’s parties and play activities.”

The room is the biggest available space in the town for community use - holding up to 220 people - and already hosts music and theatre group rehearsals, art exhibitions, public meetings and parties.

Dave said: “If we can increase the number of bookings, we would like to move on to modernising the kitchen and toilets, and make the building fully accessible for people with disabilities.

“We’ve had a tremendous amount of community support, and people really value the building.”

Repairing the floor would be the latest stage in a restoration which began in 2002, following 30 years in which the building was used as a factory producing women’s underwear and children’s clothing.

The floor was specially designed to carry heavy loads due to the building’s original function as a malt house when it was built in 1820.

It was purchased by the St Mary’s church in 1891 for £800 after a community fundraising campaign, and the first volunteers then converted it for public use.

Dave said: “It is a fascinating old building and you can still see how all the old rooms were used in the malting process. It’s probably the finest example of its kind in the country.”

Voting for the Aviva Community Fund closes on Tuesday, November 21, when a selection of the most popular projects will be put to a judging panel for consideration.

For more details, and to cast a vote, go to https://goo.gl/iBL54z.