In one of my recent articles I wrote about the St John Ambulance Hall Consett and our fight to save it for future generation’s.
The newly formed Consett & District Heritage and Arts Community Interest Company (CaDHA CIC), founded in October 2019, was set up by a dedicated group of volunteers for this very purpose, as well as to provide a Heritage and Arts Centre for the area. Our first job was to stop the sale of the hall and have it classified as a building of community interest, which we did. This gave us time to start the ball rolling and to find the initial money needed to buy the hall. Our fund raising initially started off well with many fantastic people donating, but unfortunately it just wasn’t enough.
However, after lots of wrangling and meetings, CaDHA CIC have now taken possession of the former Ambulance Hall in John Street, Consett with major assistance from the Project Genesis Trust. The group now have a 25 year lease and officially received the keys to the Hall on 16th October 2020. The present circumstances of lock-down’s due to this terrible pandemic are not ideal and are certainly not how we foresaw our initial start-up.
Our CIC have been in a type slumber, other than for planning for the better part of 5-6 months. However, we have now jumped into action. We have started the processes to get the building ready for activities to begin. There are still quite a few hurdles to overcome, such as final safety checks, fire regulations and so on, all of which are in hand but have been slowed down due to the present situation. Money is also a major factor as you can imagine.
As a group we are having meetings regularly to make sure we keep things moving forward. We have started applying for grants and have already had some generous donation’s, but are also actively seeking more as well as other revenues of income.
The old ambulance hall is a fantastic space and we plan to make it into a centre of excellence, not only benefiting the local area but also to help bring in people from much further afield.
The Ambulance Hall was built initially in around 1934 by local subscription and donation’s and the land being donated by the Consett Iron Company next to its purpose built telephone exchange, now the Old Courthouse.
The hall also has an internal metal construction which was as also supplied by the company.
With a large hall and rooms downstairs and a larger hall with stage and small rooms upstairs it is an ideal space for many activities. Small intimate theatrical production’s, art galleries, historical exhibition’s and micro museum displays are only a few of the activities we are planning. The name of the heritage and art centre will be Consett HEART, heart being an acronym for what our group stands for; Heritage, Education, Art, Recreation and Theatre.
There is lots of work to be done but we truly hope it will be a venture which will make the people of the area proud. A place which will give a platform for artists to flourish, our heritage to be explored and preserved and help put our area on the artistic and historical map.
A quick last note, we would also be interested to hear from any local businesses or trades people who would like to donate anything including their time/services to help us. Please get in touch.