Village courthouse reopening is just the start of things to come
- Credit: Archant
A community hub in a former courthouse has officially opened.
The building, in Stradbroke, has been the focal point of a project in the village, and has been restored and refurbished to house a Post Office and library, with a community cafe coming at the turn of the new year.
The opening marks the end of the second phase of the Stradbroke Library and Courthouse Trust Courthouse project.
The third phase is set to begin next year, with the village archive and Radio Stradbroke studios going upstairs in the courthouse.
The first event that took place in the cafe area was a village archive open day, and a community meal, which sold out the first day it was advertised, is on December 5.
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The library and post office running together is the first of its kind.
Vice-chair of the trust, James Hargrave, said: “It’s not the end of the project, it’s the beginning.
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“Rather than sitting in meetings and talking about it we can use the space and do things with it.”
The building also features a mural featuring Mike Readman and Annie Kerr. The ribbon was cut by their surviving partners, Ann Readman and Bob Kerr.
“They both made a massive contribution to the project,” Mr Hargrave said.
Alison Wheeler, general manager of Suffolk Libraries, added the library and post office had been doing well.
She said: “I think it’s that they are core community services, so putting them both together helps them both be more sustainable.
“I don’t know why we didn’t think of it before!
“They have both faced lots of changes in the past few years, but at the heart they are about giving a very local service.”
Suffolk County Councillor Guy McGregor, who donated £2,000 to the trust, said the project was a “real achievement and statement of community spirit”.
Senior stakeholder manager for the Post Office in Eastern England Gary Herbert said the building was a community asset.
He said: “This is the kind of Post Office many communities are biting our hands off for. This will take Stradbroke forward for the foreseeable future.”
Maureen John, chair of the trust, library manager and postmaster, said: “I’m being told on a daily basis how pleased people are having the services in the village.
“The village renaissance started right here in this building. We did it!”