The John Betjeman Centre is sited in the main building of the old railway station at Wadebridge, Cornwall.
The last train left Wadebridge at 17.20 on the 28th January 1967.
In the 1980’s a total of £300,000 was raised from voluntary contributions in order to refurbish it and extend it’s size. It took six years to complete and was accomplished in 2 phases.
Firstly the old building was converted from its derelict state and opened on the 1st of April 1989. In the second phase the additional rooms were added.
When it was officially opened by Viscountess Falmouth on the 29th May 1991, she remarked. How lovely it would be if every town had such a comfortable centre as the John Betjeman Centre.
Fast forward to 2018 and the community hub had a major refurbishment costing £450,000.
The building had extensive roof repairs and complete restoration of the railway canopy and the inside of the building has been transformed to accommodate new toilets, a modern kitchen and a community café.
Concern Wadebridge supports people over 50 and or have a disability but the centre and its facilities are open to everyone to use.
It hosts daily a variety of classes and activities and the rooms are available to hire for everything from charity events to children’s birthday parties and will soon be holding its first wedding reception!
Manager Andy Lyle said: ““We are hoping that our new centre will encourage more people to use the facilities. There is a real misconceptions, which has been highlighted on local social media pages, that The John Betjeman Centre is only for the older generation and this is not the case. We are open for everyone to enjoy and use the vast array of services we have on offer.
“Our in-house activities are for all ages and our rooms are hired by lots of local clubs and host a variety of activities from energetic Table Tennis and Zumba Classes to Trade Fairs, the Centre is also home of Wadebridge U3A, Memory Cafe, Stroke Group, Parkinson’s Group and a lot, lot more. In the evenings we have Wadebridge Bridge Club, InTune Choir, Yoga and even a new WI called Betjeman Belles whose members have been enjoying activities like cider tours whilst the centre has been closed.
“We also have Tai Chi and complementary therapies and for the older generations we have a regular Golden Oldies singing session and a very popular weekly tea dance.
“There really is something for everyone here, for all ages to enjoy. Our new kitchen provides a bigger selection than before, serving breakfasts, lunches and of course homemade cakes and jam and cream So why not come and have a look and join us for a cuppa and see for yourself?”
As well as the centre, Concern Wadebridge has a fleet of minibuses which are used to provide a weekly town bus service, a variety of day trips and can be hired by local community groups and schools.
Concern Wadebridge relies on a strong team of volunteers who help the day to day running of the centre from greeting people at reception, serving refreshments and helping with fundraising. There is also a team of volunteer drivers who take people to hospital appointments or drive the minibus for daytrips.
Centre administrator Emma Wherry said: “We would be completely lost without our wonderful volunteers they do so much to help the centre and charity. It’s lovely for our customers to see familiar smiling faces.
“Our drivers provide a lifeline for people who would otherwise not be able to get to appointments or out for a day trip or Sunday lunch.
“But we always need more so if you have a spare couple of hours each week or would like to go on our drivers list please do not hesitate to contact me.”
The charity also offers a Shopmobility scheme where people can hire wheelchairs or mobility scooters to help them access the town centre or the Camel Trail or hire them whilst on holiday.
The Centre opens Monday to Friday 10am-4pm and will be opening on Saturdays from 10am-2pm from 2nd May 2020.
For more information about activities at the centre, to hire rooms or to become a volunteer contact Andy or Emma on 01208 812392.
Photos of how the centre used to look before the 2018 renovation: