Run-down Sheffield community centre could become wedding venue, under £150,000 plans for revival

Philip Ireson with June and Tony outside the centre
Philip Ireson with June and Tony outside the centre
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Efforts are underway to revive a long-neglected Sheffield community centre and make it once again the heartbeat of the neighbourhood.

Grimesthorpe Family Centre was once a bustling hive of activity but, although it still hosts a number of groups, a lack of investment over the years has taken its toll.

Volunteers June and Tony Luxon at Grimesthorpe Family Centre

Volunteers June and Tony Luxon at Grimesthorpe Family Centre

The building on Holywell Road is badly in need of some TLC, and visitor numbers have dropped sharply since its post-war heyday, when it was a social and cultural focus for the suburb.

Four years after dire warnings the facility would close without urgent support, its fortunes could be set for a major transformation.

A determined group of volunteers is seeking to raise £150,000 to renovate the tired premises and breathe new life into the centre.

They believe it has the potential to offer many more activities for those of all ages, and to host weddings, birthdays and other celebrations.

Tony and June behind the bar

Tony and June behind the bar

And they say it is needed more than ever in what is today one of the city's most deprived areas.

Philip Ireson, who recently retired as vicar of Christ Church in Pitsmoor, is among a small team leading efforts to kick-start the centre's regeneration.

"The place had gone into decline. Because it was deteriorating so badly, nobody seemed to be interested and there was a real possibility it would be sold off and knocked down," he said.

"There's a real need for a community centre in the area, especially with so many other meeting places like pubs and churches having closed.

"Since most of the steel working firms departed, Grimesthorpe has become quite a remote and deprived neighbourhood, with a lot of low-price housing and a large Roma population.

"This is an old scruffy building but it's got two floors, a bar and a dance hall, and there's so much potential for it to be a great meeting space."

Work has already begun to tidy up the grounds, funding applications are being prepared and talks are underway with the church, which owns the building, about securing a new 25-year lease.

The centre already hosts a thriving youth club, a church group and mindfulness classes, and even has its own artist-in-residence.

The £150,000 is wanted to repair the building, which desperately needs a new roof and windows, and to recruit an activities manager.

Having previously helped raise the same sum to restore the hall of his former church, Mr Ireson is confident the fundraising target is achievable.

The 110-year-old building was originally the hall of the neighbouring St Thomas' Church building, which is now occupied by the Greentop circus school, but it has been home to a variety of community groups for more than 50 years.

* For more information about Grimesthorpe Family Centre, and how to get involved, call 0758 0962 443.