Biggar Corn Exchange opens
Published Wednesday, 01 December 2010
The Biggar Corn Exchange building has been officially opened following a major refurbishment.
Members of the Biggar Theatre Workshop and the council secured funding of £500,000 to refurbish the Grade 'B' listed building from the Scottish Government Town Centre Regeneration Fund, Heritage Lottery Fund and the council.
The project is being developed by the council's Housing and Technical Services in separate phases to tie in with external funding packages secured. The first phase of the development has addressed major essential repairs to roof, external stonework, windows and doors, rot works, access improvements and internal renovation throughout.
Councillor Hamish Stewart, the depute chair of the council's Community Resources Committee, who officially opened the building, said: "This is a great example of partnership working between the council and members of a community to develop and improve these local facilities.
"I am delighted that together we have achieved so much to improve such a wonderful building as this for everyone in the community to enjoy. I am sure the people of Biggar and the surrounding area will be delighted with it and will make full use of such an excellent facility."
To extend the use of the building for the community, fixed seating in the theatre has been replaced with retractable raked seating creating a multipurpose hall. And dressing rooms have also been converted into committee/ training rooms.
Mike Chad, Director of Biggar Theatre Workshop said: "Biggar is an attractive little town with a long and fascinating heritage. It is also blessed with a strong community spirit, and a generally 'can-do' attitude. The newly re-opened Corn Exchange brings these two characteristics together.
"We are pleased that some of the original features have been preserved in this sensitive refurbishment which now provides a fully functional and highly flexible venue for the many groups in Biggar including Biggar Theatre Workshop, Biggar Little Festival, Clydesdale Folk Club and Jazz in Biggar to name but a few.
"So the historic Corn Exchange can now continue to serve the community, linking the past, the present and the future.
"We are excited about the opportunity to maximise the use of the building to encourage local people to develop their talents and interests, and to bring in live performance events from further afield."
Head of the Heritage Lottery Fund, Colin McLean, said: "Clearly this is a town whose people do not stand by and wait for others to take action, but who take a firm grip of their own destiny and their own heritage assets.
"I was intrigued to see on your web site that the erection of the Corn Exchange in 1860 was funded by selling shares at £5 each to the local community. That a community group has taken responsibility for its restoration today is indeed a full turn of the circle. I congratulate all who have been involved in this project and wish you well for its future. It has been our pleasure, although our contribution was a relatively modest one, to play a part in supporting it."
The Corn Exchange project was part of the Town Centre Regeneration Fund whose £60million capital fund was made available by the Scottish Government in 2009/10, which supported 66 projects across 85 towns in all 32 local authorities.
Housing and Communities Minister Alex Neil said: "The Scottish Government recognises the importance of town centres and local high streets to Scotland's economic, social and cultural fabric.
"The Biggar Corn Exchange development adds a new cultural venue to the town centre, which will help revitalise the area.
"More than ever, in this challenging financial climate, and in the face of savage cuts from Westminster, we need thriving town centres to be part of efforts to support and sustain the recovery we are building in Scotland."
First to grace the building's theatre area will be the pantomime Sleeping Beauty running from 7 - 11 December.
Thereafter the new look facility will open its doors in January 2011 for a wide variety of activities including social functions, film nights, committee meetings, training and conference events.
For more information, or to make a booking, please call 01899 810275.