BSEE readers were asked to send in details of a local community project for which a new heating/hot water system would make a real difference for the people using the building. The response we have received was overwhelming and our judging panel had a difficult task trying to whittle the many deserving causes down to just three. However, we can now announce the first project on our shortlist: The Silvester Horne Institute in Church Stretton, Shropshire.
The Silvester Horne Institute (SHI) was built in 1916 as a national memorial to Rev. Charles Silvester Horne, with funds raised through a national appeal. Charles was a Congregational Minister, Preacher and Liberal MP who retired to Church Stretton in 1913 and was also the father of the popular comedian, Kenneth Horne.
The SHI is Church Stretton’s main community building and is acknowledged locally as being of great historical and architectural importance. Facilities include a large hall with Church Stretton’s only sprung dance floor, a kitchen, stage, balcony and three small committee rooms. There are many flourishing groups that rely on the building’s facilities, including Drama and Dance groups, the Badminton Club, Bowling groups, Quaker Society, Strettons Civic Society, Women’s Institute and Blood Transfusion sessions, amongst others.
The SHI’s heating system is now over 30 years old and, as well as being inefficient and costly to run, the original plumbing is slowly deteriorating. The old boiler is not easily controlled and has to cope with trying to heat the entire building, which means that parts of the building are being heated when not in use and the heating has to be left on for far longer than necessary. The kitchen is not equipped to cater for anything other than the smallest of functions and the toilets require a dramatic overhaul. Now approaching its centenary, the SHI is desperately in need of updating to meet modern building standards and requirements.
Christine Harvey, Town Clerk & Clerk of the Trustees, told us: “The local community has great affection for the SHI but, unfortunately, many no longer feel it meets their needs or is a comfortable space to use. Church Stretton is known for having a higher than average number of retired and older people and it is important to us that we facilitate the integration of old and young by creating a meeting space for both formal and informal activities and to make them a more frequent feature of community life.”
Church Stretton is a small market town situated in the heart of the Shropshire Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.
This is just the first of our shortlisted entries – look out for the next one in our May issue.