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Bourne Corn Exchange has been refurbished

An entertainment and social venue has undergone a refurbishment by its own staff after the pandemic left it closed to the public.

Rather than hire external contractors, South Kesteven District Council’s in-house team rolled up their sleeves and put their combined skills to good use at Bourne Corn Exchange.

The venue usually hosts theatre, functions, fitness classes, parties, wedding receptions, meetings, workshops, youth groups and conferences.

Ian Bland, Stuart Kelly and Keith Jones
Ian Bland, Stuart Kelly and Keith Jones

But since October last year, Ian Bland, Stuart Kelly and Keith Jones have been working tirelessly on a huge project, saving the council thousands in project management fees and other costs.

Working around the continuing regular attendance of the NHS Blood Service and a Sunday Carvery programme last autumn, they have played a massive role in transforming the building.

In addition, Ian sourced much of the professional fitting and supplies from providers in the area, supporting the economy during what has been a very challenging trading time.

Coun Rosemary Trollope-Bellew and coun Kelham Cooke
Coun Rosemary Trollope-Bellew and coun Kelham Cooke

Cabinet member for culture and visitor economy, coun Rosemary Trollope-Bellew, said: “Our congratulations and enormous thanks go to the team who are doing such a brilliant job.

"Work like this can help everyone to feel welcome and valued by further strengthening our communities.

“As outlined in the council’s Corporate Plan, improvement and investment in the local arts and cultural venues across the district is a priority.

"This in turn meets our overall ambition to build on and celebrate the rich heritage and culture of the district.

Bourne Corn Exchange refurbishment
Bourne Corn Exchange refurbishment

“Our staff, who might otherwise have been furloughed, supplied all the labour and sourced materials locally, shopping around to get the best deals.

“The team saved over 50 per cent on the original quotes and we are all very pleased and proud with the project’s achievements.

"A quality result has been achieved by people with a genuine love for the building and why it exists.

“Credit must also go to South Kesteven District Council’s management for having the foresight to see this through with our own staff.”

The Corn Exchange dates back to 1870 and was built on the site of the old post office in Abbey Road.

The original building was designed as a public hall and corn exchange which was held in the large main hall with a stage and retiring rooms.

The South Kesteven Community Access Point was opened there in 2013 bringing all town, district and county council services under one roof together with the public library from South Street and the Register Office from West Street.

This venue hosts a variety of events through-out the year, including regular productions by amateur dramatic societies, pop concerts and other stage entertainment. It can also be hired out for private functions of between 140 and 180 guests.

Situated in the centre of Bourne, the venue has a fully equipped and licensed bar, professional kitchen and is accessible for wheelchairs.

Ian, the house manager for the SK Community Access Point, Library and Corn Exchange, added: “Because there was limited public access, we thought we'd get the refurbishment work done ourselves.

“We have replaced the stage floor and curtains, installed a new lighting system and sound system, built extensions to the wings, replaced all the wood around the bottom of the main hall and decorated throughout.

"There is now a brand-new bar area and bar, refurbished ladies, gents and disabled toilets, and we’re starting on the Green Room, adding two new dressing rooms for performers.”

There is more to come as the team is currently moving the registrar’s office to the library area.

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