New business facilities in the south Wiltshire parish of Downton will open their doors to the public this weekend, as the nation marks the centenary of the end of the First World War.
Local businesses, residents and community groups will be given the chance to look around extended facilities at the renamed Downton Memorial Centre on Friday and Saturday (November 9 and 10).
The new purpose-built extension provides ground floor accommodation for the pre-school, with a a suite of modern conferencing facilities and community spaces above. Facilities include air conditioning, wi-fi and the latest audio-visual equipment.
Development work has been taking place over the last year, with an investment of over £1.1m from housing developer’s contributions, Wiltshire Council’s Early Years contributions, and local residents’ council tax.
Parish council chairman Dave Mace said: "“We’ve been working hard to deliver a welcoming and well-equipped new centre, owned by and managed on behalf of the local community.
"We’re delighted we have now reached the stage where people can start making the most of the great facilities on offer.”
Susan Barnhurst-Davies, chairman of the Downton Memorial Centre added: “We’re expecting the Centre to host everything from conferences and club meetings to yoga classes and networking events – it’s such a versatile space that will benefit so many people.
"We’ve had a great reaction from everyone who has seen the facilities so far, and it looks like it will be a real hub for local businesses and enterprise.”
The new Bonvalot meeting room, which is named after Emily Bonvalot who purchased the land adjacent to the Memorial Hall to create a garden, now the Memorial Gardens, in memory of her son who was killed in the Great War, can accommodate up to 50 people.
The Centenary Room, named to commemorate the 100th year anniversary of the end of the Great War, accomodates up to 40.
The Memorial Hall was built in 1840 as a public school for boys. It became a public hall in 1896 when the current primary school was built. It was renamed the Memorial Hall after the Great War and will adopt its new name – Downton Memorial Centre - this weekend.