An historic community venue in Barton-upon-Humber is set to be able to welcome larger numbers of visitors later this year thanks to a four-figure grant from a regional developer.
The Queen Street School Preservation Trust has been working on a wide-ranging plan to improve and enhance the facilities at the town’s Grade II-listed Joseph Wright Hall, which was originally built in the 1860s as a Methodist chapel before being acquired by the Salvation Army a century later.
The Trust took on responsibility for the building five years ago and currently uses its first floor as a space for creative arts activities, performances, events and exhibitions.
The configuration of its staircases and the fire regulations with which the building has to comply mean that it can only currently have a maximum of 60 people attending its events.
But now, the Trust is using a £3,750 grant awarded from the Banks Community Fund to remove one of the staircases and install a replacement that has the dimensions required to allow the venue’s capacity to be more than doubled, with further work planned to eventually enable it to host audiences of more than two hundred people.
The Trust has commissioned local craftsman Norman Hornsby to build the new staircase, which it is hoping to have in place by the summer, and plans for future events in the enhanced space, including productions by local amateur dramatics societies and a music festival, are already in development.
Established in 1993, the Queen Street School Preservation Trust was set up to acquire, maintain and preserve old school and public buildings within the Queen Street area of Barton-upon-Humber and give them an ongoing viable existence for the benefit of the community.
Alongside the Joseph Wright Hall, the Trust also manages the neighbouring Wilderspin School Museum, an educational, heritage and community centre which focuses on the life and work of Samuel Wilderspin, a locally-born educator best known for his pioneering work on infant schools.
James Emerson of the Queen Street School Preservation Trust says: “The Joseph Wright Hall is a wonderful, character-filled building and our work is focused on making the very best use of it that we can to the benefit of our local community.
“This is a complicated project, but the difference that it will make to the breadth and size of events that we can host at the Hall will make it well worthwhile.
“Being able to increase the venue’s capacity will not only enable more local people to enjoy all the different events that are staged here, but will also make a big difference to its long-term financial sustainability, especially with the plans we’re developing to welcome even bigger audiences in the future.
“The generous support we’ve had from the Banks Group for this project has saved us a great deal of fundraising time and effort, and will enable us to realise the next stage of our objectives far more quickly than we could otherwise have hoped.”
Banks Property, which is part of the Banks Group, is the developer behind a proposed new residential development for a 25-hectare site to the east of the A15 and south of Horkstow Road in Barton upon Humber, which would include a mix of up to 400 high-quality homes of different sizes and types, including affordable housing.
The plans for the site also include additional accessible areas of public open space, as well as new footpaths, wetland areas, wildlife habitats and local road links.
Rob Ormrod, head of development – Yorkshire at The Banks Group, adds: “Our community funds are designed to support local groups and good causes in the places in which we’re working in order to make a tangible, long-term difference to the lives of local people and the facilities they’re able to access.
“The Queen Street School Preservation Trust’s focus on making the very best of this historic community building is extremely impressive and we’re very pleased to be playing our part in enabling the latest stage of their plans to progress.”
Anyone interested in applying for funding from the Banks Community Fund should first contact the fund manager via email@example.com or on 0191 378 6342 before applying for a grant to check if their group or project is eligible.