Sophie Price, Project Advisor at the Diverse Regeneration Company explains why specific buildings are so important to maintain strong healthy communities…
We are fortunate to live in a region that offers enormous diversity in its landscape and richness in its culture, but what really makes our region and indeed our country so special, are the strong communities within which we live.
However, communities that are able to come together in one building, under one roof, are often able to offer a great deal more in terms of education, skills training and health and wellbeing support, to an even wider audience. This is why at The Diverse Regeneration Company we are proud to have supported (for over 15 years) so many of our regions community and heritage projects – working with strong communities each with their own unique passion and vision for improving the lives of people now and for future generations.
One such project that we’ve recently been very pleased to support, with its restoration and renovations programme, has been Kingdon House in Tavistock, now renamed ‘The Printworks’. The project was successfully awarded funding through the Greater Dartmoor LEAF (Local Enterprise Action Fund) programme. Kingdon House began life as a printing works, being part of the Duke of Bedford’s major rebuilding of the town in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. When the printing works closed in the 1970’s this gave an opportunity for the building to be purchased as a community centre. The Printworks has now celebrated 40 years as a community building – serving the people of Tavistock and surrounding rural area as a community space where people from all ages and backgrounds can access advice and support, but also wellbeing and cultural activities including art, dance, drama, music and film.
Peter Jones, Chair of Kingdon House Community Association explains what a difference the restoration and refurbishments have made to the community: “We are having a new lease of life since the improvements and our relaunch last November, with new classes and groups starting up all the time. We have invested in a new website and will develop this further to become more accessible and informative to the community, giving information about all the exciting opportunities now available at The Printworks. We are extremely grateful to all our enthusiastic supporters, volunteers and local fundraisers who have helped us over the last four years. The essential refurbishment would not have been possible without the financial support of Greater Dartmoor LEAF and Tavistock Town Heritage Initiative (TTHI). The grant application process was a complicated and lengthy one so we are very grateful to the team at The DR Company who helped us to navigate our way to a successful conclusion. We’re looking forward to exciting times ahead! “
Whilst the grant provided a significant boost towards the building costs, additional funding had to be found and the ‘Save Kingdon House’ campaign was launched! The support received astounded Trustees and a number of events, including a market stall and pop up gallery all together raised an impressive figure. The support from local businesses with pledges of free goods and services and offers of practical support are also testament to how highly valued this community centre is. Phase two of the project has just been completed with the lower ground floor refurbished, again with the help of GD LEAF funding. The lower ground floor now gives space for further community use – developing community enterprises and acting as an independent local hub for drop in art, music and health groups. The Printworks are also now able to further expand their community with additional co-operation between West Devon Arts, Scrapstore and Tamar Energy.
The Greater Dartmoor LEAF funding programme was set up back in 2008 with its main aim in creating jobs and helping the rural economy to grow. Both funding phases of The Printworks fell under Priority 4: ‘Provision of Rural Services’, which are specifically for projects that will grow the local economy by improving rural communities, particularly in terms of access to services and the provision of infrastructure. The Printworks in Tavistock, is just one example of the importance a single building has in bringing together a wide variety of people within a community, all sharing their own unique talents and skills with others and helping to form and preserve a vital resource for an area.
Sophie Price – Project Advisor
DR Company & GD LEAF