Foundry Street Community Centre reopens after four years

After four long years Foundry Street Community Centre in Sowerby Bridge has reopened  thanks to the dedicated hard work by volunteers.After four long years Foundry Street Community Centre in Sowerby Bridge has reopened  thanks to the dedicated hard work by volunteers.
After four long years Foundry Street Community Centre in Sowerby Bridge has reopened thanks to the dedicated hard work by volunteers.
​​After four long years of closure, asset transfers and dedicated hard work by volunteers Foundry Street Community Centre in Sowerby Bridge has reopened to serve the community!

By Jordan Baker, community journalist – VAC

The centre was first opened as a youth and community centre in 1979 by the late Calderdale Mayor Betty Wildsmith the centre thrived under the management of various local organisations and groups.

It hosted a diverse range of activities, including dance, drama, yoga, badminton, scrabble and the Sowerby Bridge Shotokan Karate Club providing a space where both children and adults could discover new hobbies and build social connections.

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VSI Alliance Jordan Baker, Community Journalist, VAC.VSI Alliance Jordan Baker, Community Journalist, VAC.
VSI Alliance Jordan Baker, Community Journalist, VAC.

By 2020, only three groups remained and the start of the COVID-19 pandemic saw the unfortunate closure of Foundry Street.

In July 2021, Calderdale Council decided to keep the community centre closed due to the centralisation of youth services. This decision was met with sadness and frustration, particularly from Sheila Eastwood, a long-time user whose karate club had been based there since the beginning.

With a willingness to save the centre, Sheila started an online petition in a bid to stop the closure and prove the community centre’s need in Sowerby Bridge.

The petition gained over 1,300 signatures and it was later agreed by the council that the building would be offered as a community asset transfer allowing community ownership and management of the publicly owned building.

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After a lengthy 20-month process, volunteers finally received the keys to the building in November of last year.

During its closure, the building had fallen into neglect and required extensive cleaning and repairs before it could be used again.

However, determined volunteers got stuck in and just one week after receiving the keys, the Sowerby Bridge Boxing Club and Sowerby Bridge Shotokan Karate Club began their sessions in the main hall.

Since then, volunteers have been busy making the space one that the community deserves, installing a new plumbing system, repainting, and adding energy-efficient LED lighting.

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Foundry Street were the runners-up for Best New Charity at last year’s Community Foundation for Calderdale’s Community Spirit Awards highlighting their dedication and impact for the future.

The community centre is ensuring the building is by the community, for the community – encouraging art and design students from Ryburn Valley High School to design their new logo in collaboration with graphic designer Adrian Mitchell.

Year 11 student Woody Oldroyd’s winning design is now proudly placed upon the building paying tribute to the Foundry Street Community Centre’s doorway arch.

Today, there are now 12 regular user groups at Foundry Street, including Cindy’s Stompers Line Dancing, children’s football sessions by North Star Sports and Yoga by Attune Fitness and Wellbeing, as well as ad-hoc events and sessions.

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The Community Centre has many exciting plans for the future, and we cannot wait to celebrate its success!

Interested in hiring a space or volunteering at Foundry Street Community Centre? For more information e-mail: [email protected]