The major project to restore the historic Newbridge Memorial Hall and Institute to their former glory will reach a key milestone with a topping out ceremony marking a major achievement in the first phase at 2pm on Wednesday, 29 August.
Both the ‘Memo’ – as it is known locally - and adjoining Institute, which were built with contributions given by the town’s miners, are being revamped through a £5.6 million building project which forms a major part of the ongoing £12 million regeneration of Newbridge Town Centre by Caerphilly County Borough Council.
Caerphilly County Borough Council have ardently supported the Memo and Institute restoration scheme, which is part funded by the European Regional Development Fund through the Welsh Government, Welsh Government’s Targeted Match Fund, the Heritage Lottery Fund, Big Lottery, CADW, Trustees of the Institute and Memo and the Coalfields Regeneration Trust, amongst others.
Contractors Seddon Construction began work in January 2012 on the restoration scheme – designed by Alwyn Jones Architects - for the Grade II-listed Institute and Grade II*- listed Memo.
Work proposed so far through the phased restoration includes an extensive internal refurbishment scheme for the Institute. On the ground floor, Seddon will create a state-of-the-art Information Resource Centre which is set to be leased to Caerphilly County Borough Council. On the first floor are multipurpose community rooms, including a function room, meeting rooms and a Royal Air Forces Association office. The construction team is also working on the new extension which links the two buildings and provides a new main entrance to the complex as well as a staff office, new WCs and two passenger lifts. They will now complete the installation of the slate roof and carry out brick and stonework repairs and cleaning to the building’s exterior with the first phase of the restoration due to be completed in December 2012.
Howard Stone, chair of the ‘Memo’ Trustees, says: "This event is a milestone in what has been a nine-year endeavour to restore these wonderful buildings. They were originally built by the huge efforts and small contributions of the local miners, somewhere that the local community could meet and enjoy the facilities provided. It should be recognised that the efforts of today’s community volunteers are following this ethos. Through their dedicated work and together with the support of the various funding bodies and our partnership with Caerphilly County Borough Council, Newbridge will once again have a superb facility, restored and run by the local community volunteers.”
Cllr Harry Andrews, Leader of Caerphilly County Borough Council, comments: "We are delighted to be working so closely alongside the Memo Trustees to bring about the wonderful transformation of this historic venue. A small group of dedicated volunteers have been instrumental in driving this long-awaited regeneration programme forward, and I greatly look forward to seeing the phase one completion of these landmark buildings over the coming months.”
Grant Millar, business unit manager for Seddon Construction, says: "This is a building which has played a central part in the history of Newbridge and that’s been reflected in the dedicated and long community campaign which has brought about its restoration. The entire construction team is delighted to be helping to reinstate the Memo and Institute and ensure that this cherished local landmark is back at the very heart of the community which originally built it.”
The Institute opened in 1908 and included a billiards room, library, committee room and reading room. The Memo – which had a ballroom and cinema - was built in 1924 as a memorial to local servicemen who died during the First World War.