The Prince of Wales has officially opened the newly restored Newbridge Memorial Hall today and was greeted by around 400 people.
The Newbridge Memorial Hall, known as ‘The Memo’, is a Grade II listed 1908 workingmen’s institute and adjoining Grade II* listed 1925 memorial hall.
In 2004 the building featured in the BBC television programme Restoration, which it only narrowly failed to win.
Ten years later the renovation work has now been completed, thanks to the efforts of the very committed group of local fundraisers, and the Memo has been brought back into use, with its spectacular original decorations restored and its major rooms retaining their original uses of ballroom below and auditorium above.
The restoration work has been part-funded by the European Regional Development Fund through the Welsh Government, the Heritage Lottery Fund, Big Lottery, CADW, Caerphilly County Borough Council, Trustees of the Institute and Memo and the Coalfields Regeneration Trust, amongst others.
Originally opened in 1925 by local colliery owner Lord Beynon, as a memorial to local servicemen who lost their lives during World War One, the much loved building fell into disrepair and sparked a 10 year campaign by local residents to restore the building.
Chair of the Memo, Howard Stone who has been at the forefront of the developments, said: “This is an incredible day for all of the trustees, supporters, local community members and funding bodies. We have fought long and hard for this and to share the celebrations with Prince Charles and our 400 guests is the perfect way to mark this wonderful occasion.”
Works began on phase one in 2012, which consisted of the construction of an extension to original building. The new part of the building is home to Caerphilly County Borough Council’s Library Service and a number of multi-use community rooms.
The second phase concentrated on the restoration of the Memo including the impressive ballroom. With a capacity for a 700 strong audience the building played host to all styles of music concerts from dance bands to punk rock, tea dances to teddy boys, from rock and roll to heavy metal.
Cllr Ken James, Cabinet Member for Regeneration, Planning and Sustainable Development, said: “To see this landmark building full once again truly lifts my heart. It was a real hub of the community many years ago and to see the loving restoration that has been poured into this project is fantastic. I must extend my congratulations to everyone involved in making this a reality.”
It is the second time Prince Charles has visited the county borough this year.