£500k project to transform 100-year-old church opens its doors to public

John Barnett (second left) Chairman of Trustees with fellow trustees (left to right) John Pond, Father Kevin Smith, Dean Reynolds, Audrey Hogarth and Ann Wiffen in the Alan Bowser Hall located in the Centennial Centre, St Mary's Church Hall.

John Barnett (second left) Chairman of Trustees with fellow trustees (left to right) John Pond, Father Kevin Smith, Dean Reynolds, Audrey Hogarth and Ann Wiffen in the Alan Bowser Hall located in the Centennial Centre, St Mary's Church Hall.

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A £500,000 project to transform a 100-year-old church hall into a state-of-the-art community hub has opened its doors to the public after months of hard work.

Members of the public were invited to a grand opening of the new Horden Centennial Centre, which is at the site of St Mary’s Hall.

The tea room in the centennial centre

The tea room in the centennial centre

The scheme has been hailed as “another step in the regeneration of Horden and East Durham”.

Bishop Auckland-based contractors Vest Construction started work on the structure around five months ago, with funding provided by the Big Lottery Reaching Communities fund.

The opening event saw invited guests given a tour, a cinema viewing of work on the building and an afternoon tea.

It was a proud moment for centre chairman John Barnett who has been a driving force behind the project.

The centre has new rooms, heating, lighting, signage, modern equipment and structural repairs which will see the building given a long-term future as a “centre for regeneration” in one of Horden’s most deprived neighbourhoods.

New training rooms, a fitness suite, internet cafe, and a resource hub have also been created to offer residents activities and services under one roof. The centre will also offer access to a range of services, including police contact, employability support and healthy living activities.

Michael Fishwick, tenancy sustainability manager for social housing group Accent Foundation, said: “Accent is delighted with the end result and we are pleased to have been involved in this project from the start, alongside all those volunteers, groups and professionals who have made it happen.

“It is a massive achievement for the community and gives Horden and the area its first centre for regeneration and a fantastic community facility. It’s going to be a place where people realise their potential and work together.”