South East Wales

First concert after Newbridge Memo restoration

Memo
Image caption The memorial hall will be finished in February 2015

The first concert is to take place at the refurbished Newbridge Memorial Hall after a decade of fundraising.

The ballroom will re-open on Saturday night, while work is continuing on the 450-seat auditorium, which trustees hope will open in February.

The hall narrowly missed out on £3m of funding from the BBC programme Restoration in 2004 but it has since received lottery and other grant aid.

Miners built the hall in 1925 to mark those who died in World War One.

The auditorium closed in the early 1970s while the rest of the hall closed briefly in 2003 before local campaigners reopened it.

Since then, local people have been behind refurbishing and reopening the whole of the Memo, along with the adjoining Edwardian institute, at a cost of £5.6m.

It has had the high-profile support of both Prince Charles and Manic Street Preachers lead singer James Dean Bradfield, who officially marked the adjoining institute's reopening last year.

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Media captionJames Dean Bradfield shares his memories of the Memo

Bradfield worked as a barman at the Memo and said it was an "amazing" mix of young and old in the community when he was growing up.

The Manics also played there in the past, along with acts including Tom Jones, Steve Marriott and The Stranglers.

TIMELINE:

Image caption By 1924, the Institute had a games room, reading room, library and meeting places
  • 1908: The Celynen Collieries Institute was built to offer education and a library
  • 1925: The adjoining Newbridge Memorial Hall was opened in memory of local deaths in World War One
  • 1971: The auditorium of the "Memo", including a cinema, closed. The ballroom and the Institute remained open
  • 2003: The Memo and Institute closed in January but a friends group is formed to reopen it in April and and refurbish the buildings
  • 2004: Narrowly loses out in the £3m BBC Restoration programme final but fundraising continues
  • 2009: Planning permission for the buildings to be restored to their former glories
  • 2013: The Newbridge Institute is officially reopened after refurbishment
  • 2014: The Memo's ballroom refurbishment is complete
  • 2015: Its auditorium is due to reopen in February

Community rooms, offices and the new Newbridge library are already open in the institute as work continues on the hall.

The auditorium, which included a cinema, has been closed since 1971, but along with the ballroom is being returned to its former glory and will stage a reopening concert to mark its 90th anniversary.

Movies to Movies will be the first concert in the revamped ballroom, with an audience of 200 expected.

"People from all over the world have given us support over the last 10 years or so," said Howard Stone, chairman of trustees.

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