Sad farewell to long-standing community centre

FESTIVE FAREWELL from users of the Red Lion Community Centre in Bulwell at its final Christmas party -- DISPIC NHUD11-3494-1.
FESTIVE FAREWELL from users of the Red Lion Community Centre in Bulwell at its final Christmas party -- DISPIC NHUD11-3494-1.

A LONG-established community centre that was created by hard-working Bulwell volunteers has held its last Christmas party as closure looms large.

The Red Lion venue on Coventry Road has become a major focus for community groups in almost 20 years of success in the town.

But a festive bash doubled up as a farewell party as users from the centre’s past and present came together to both celebrate and commiserate.

Services offered by the Red Lion centre will now be swallowed up by the nearby £22 million Riverside joint-service centre on Main Street and Coventry Road.

Owner Nottingham City Council will sell the Red Lion building, because it is no longer needed, when the community centre closes at the end of January.

Coun Jackie Morris (Lab), a Bulwell member of Nottingham City Council, was at the farewell party.

She said: “This is a sad day for Bulwell but I am looking forward to the Riverside Centre being opened and hopefully serving the community in the same way.”

A former Shipstones Brewery pub, the Red Lion centre came into being in the early 1990s thanks to a dedicated group of Bulwell residents. They formed a committee to obtain the lease of the building and carried out a major renovation project.

The centre was closed for four months in 1994 for a £200,000 facelift, paid for by European funding and city council grants.

Improvements included a new playgroup building and play area. The centre also features a canteen and offices for staff and volunteers.

It also offers a home to services ranging from a jobs club to a youth club and kickboxing classes.

Over the years, the centre has seen the formation of various successful initiatives. Bulwell Vision regeneration group was based at the venue and Bulwell Credit Union — which has now merged with its Nottingham counterpart — was launched there.

The former Bulwell Red Lion Amateur Boxing Club was founded in a gym which was set up in an outbuilding at the centre.

Many people associated with the Red Lion Centre down the years turned up at the party. One was Lynn Wiggins, who first became involved nearly ten years ago and is now the centre’s administrator. She and a cleaner are losing their jobs as part of the change.

Lynn stressed that no groups that were currently located at the Red Lion Centre would become ‘homeless’ but said at the party: “It is obviously an emotional occasion for all of us.”

She added: “What will be missed in the future is the personal touch we offer at the Red Lion centre.”