A POPULAR venue which has welcomed thousands of people down the years is celebrating its golden anniversary.
It is 50 years since Owton Manor Community Centre and Library opened in Wynyard Road in Hartlepool.
Its aim was to become a focal point for the area. Since then, the building has held everything from wedding receptions to dinner dances and carpet bowls.
Its anniversary has been marked with a tea dance, a visit to Hartlepool by the author Bill Kitson, and an exhibition on the history of the centre.
And to complete the occasion, there was the unveiling of a commemorative plaque.
Lynne Osborne is the community buildings assistant based at the centre and said: “It’s a milestone. We still get people aged from six to 90.
“We run all sorts of groups from Tae Kwan Do to yoga and crochet to tea dances.
“We get pretty well booked and there’s lots in the daytime and especially on a night-time.”
Back on Wednesday, October 23, 1963, the then Mayor of Hartlepool Jack Addison opened the venue and said: “It is what happens in these walls during the years to come which will place the seal of success or the stigma of failure on this enterprise.
“Only if the building became the home of every kind of interesting activity, and only if it was regarded by the inhabitants as the core of the community would it have really made the grade.”
The building has since become an important cog in the Owton Manor community.
Yesterday’s celebrations also included a demonstration of Tae Kwan Do, a carpet bowls competition between the centre’s Monday and Tuesday carpet bowls clubs.
The art display was put together by members of the centre’s two art groups.
And relatives of the very first caretakers Albert and Marjorie Kingston, loaned photographs from their days in the community centre.
Lynne, who has been at the centre for three years, said: “Children aged from about six take part in the Tae Kwan Do and we get people at the tea dance in their 90s.
“The building also gets hired for children’s birthday parties. We don’t get as many wedding receptions as we used to but we did have an Indian wedding reception here a couple of years ago and it was lovely.”
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