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New arts centre filling a creative niche on the north Norfolk coast

PUBLISHED: 17:01 06 March 2017 | UPDATED: 08:16 07 March 2017

Keith Hobday and Lucy Murphy in the concert hall and gallery part of the Belfry Centre for music and arts, a former school they have renovated at Overstrand. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Keith Hobday and Lucy Murphy in the concert hall and gallery part of the Belfry Centre for music and arts, a former school they have renovated at Overstrand. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Copyright: Archant 2017

From the tinkle of piano keys to the clinking of coffee cups - a new arts hub is bringing a symphony of delight to the cultural scene in north Norfolk.

The former Belfry School turned into the Belfry Centre for music and arts, renovated by Keith Hobday and Lucy Murphy at Overstrand. Picture: DENISE BRADLEYThe former Belfry School turned into the Belfry Centre for music and arts, renovated by Keith Hobday and Lucy Murphy at Overstrand. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

The Belfry Centre for Music and Arts at Overstrand, near Cromer, is providing a special space for learning and performance.

The former village school has been given a new lease of life since opening its doors last September.

The centre, which aims to nurture creativity and talent, is the brainchild of Keith Hobday and Lucy Murphy.

The couple, who live in Overstrand, have set up a community interest company to run the venue. The centre hosts everything from Saturday morning music classes for children, concerts, exhibitions and exercise classes. Facilities include a cafe and rehearsal room.

The Belfry School plaque on the wall of the former school, turned into the Belfry Centre for music and arts, renovated by Keith Hobday and Lucy Murphy at Overstrand. Picture: DENISE BRADLEYThe Belfry School plaque on the wall of the former school, turned into the Belfry Centre for music and arts, renovated by Keith Hobday and Lucy Murphy at Overstrand. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Head of strings at Gresham’s School, Mr Hobday said: “When we opened we were not sure how it was going to pan out - but we have art exhibitions booked right through to 2018 and host regular lectures.

“The community response has been really positive and we seem to have found a niche - it gone beyond what we thought possible.”

The centre is working as a hub for the county council’s Norfolk Music Service, which supports the musical education of children and young people.

The Belfry was opened as a school in 1830 by members of the local Buxton and Gurney families. The school closed in 1999 and the building, which is owned by a trust, was later used as artist studios.

Miss Murphy, who previously taught at Sidestrand Hall School, manages the centre. “We have been overwhelmed with the response from the community, it has been brilliant,” said Miss Murphy.

“So many different things are happening here and it has really exceeded our expectations. This is the best job ever and am teaching the piano which I love.

“I stopped working in schools after losing my enthusiasm for teaching, but the children here are so excited to be given the opportunity to play.”

The centre is hosting a sold out creative evening for adults called Eat Me, Drink Me which involves making a city out of potatoes and free family fun days during the Easter holidays. For more information visit The Belfry Centre for Music and Arts on Facebook or call 01263 579196.

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