A run-down corner of a busy County Durham village community centre has been brought back up to scratch after work was completed on a major renovation.
Set in 14.5 acres of land, Hurworth Grange is a 140 year-old mansion house that is leased to Hurworth Community Association as a venue for a wide range of local activities and events, including Parish Council meetings, quiz nights, concerts, weddings and children’s parties.
The Community Association is responsible for meeting the annual £100,000 running costs for the building, which has two well-used halls and a gallery room, and has done so without receiving any public funding for the last 15 years.
While The Grange has become increasingly popular in recent years, its upstairs Art Room has remained underused due to the state of the fixtures and fittings therein, and has usually only been booked as a last resort when all the other rooms were taken.
The Community Association had been looking at how the room could be brought up to scratch, in order to increase the amount of revenue it could bring in from bookings – and after turning to the County Durham-headquartered Banks Group for support, a £5,000 grants from the Banks Community Fund has allowed for the desired improvements to the room to be made.
The ceiling has been lowered and fitted with a new subdued lighting system, new wall cabinets and lights have also been installed, and a new cushioned floor has been added in to replace its predecessor which caused the ceiling of the bar below to shake when the Art Room was being used by dance or drama groups.
The renovation has had an immediate impact on use of the Art Room, with the number of both bookings and re-bookings increasing substantially, and the Community Association committee believes the changes have now opened up an important new revenue stream which will help give the Grange a sustainable future.
Alongside the events held in its rooms, the grounds at Hurworth Grange also host the village’s annual Country Fair and the Classic Car & Motorcycle Show organised by the Teesside Yesteryear Motor Club.
Peter Allan of Hurworth Community Association says: “The Grange is always very busy, both during the day and in the evenings, and a lot of hard work from dozens of local volunteers and the members of the Association goes into keeping everything running smoothly, as well as ensuring our finances stay on an even keel.
“The Art Room has long been in need of improvements, but the cost of making them was out of our reach and we simply wouldn’t have been able to go ahead with this work without the support we’ve had from The Banks Community Fund.
“The reaction from our users to the renovation has been universally positive, and their enthusiasm is showing in the number of people and groups now wanting to book and rebook it.”
Lewis Stokes, community relations manager at the Banks Group, adds: “Hurworth Grange is a real landmark within the village, and the Community Association does an excellent job in managing its operations.
“The Art Room renovation looks great, and we hope the extra money it is now generating contributes towards ensuring the Grange has an even more financially-sustainable future.”
The Banks Community Fund is administered by the County Durham Community Foundation, and provides grants for community groups and voluntary organisations in the vicinity of Banks Group projects.
Anyone interested in applying for funding should contact James Eaglesham at the Banks Community Fund on 0191 378 6342 to check if their group or project is eligible.