WATCH: Town's impressive £5m Wells Maltings building finally set for official opening after refurbishment
PUBLISHED: 06:30 19 September 2018 | UPDATED: 10:27 19 September 2018
It has taken years of tireless planning, fund-raising and determination.
Now a popular north Norfolk coastal town is celebrating after one of its most historic and central buildings has been transformed into an impressive £5m community arts, heritage and tourism centre.
The revitalised Wells Maltings building is due to be officially opened tonight.
The new hub, at the bottom of Staithe Street, features the Wells Heritage Centre - a museum and learning experience about the history of the town and its important figures, which includes interactive quizzes and games as well as short educational films.
There is also a new 140-seat cinema and theatre, The Handa Gallery which will house different exhibitions, The Clore Community Studio, for various community events, a cafe and a tourist information centre.
Director of the Wells Maltings project Simon Daykin said: “It’s been an enormous feat to raise the money and complete the work but now we have even more of a challenge.
“We are giving people something they can enjoy and there are things here that appeal to everyone. It isn’t just for people interested in the arts, anyone can come along.
“At the start of the project the team had to decide whether to continue with the old building or really go for it and create a world class facility. It was through that thinking that this was made.”
The work on the site, which has cost £5 million, started in early 2017 and has been planned for more than seven years.
The Wells Heritage Centre and art gallery opened during the summer but the official opening ceremony will take place tonight.
Mr Daykin is pleased with the amount of interest shown so far and added: “In the short time we have been open lots of people have come in. People who come not expecting to enjoy the art gallery for example have ended up staying for a long time.
“Our aim now is to get to know the community and get a good idea of what people want to see. It has to be community driven.”
An exhibition of local art titled ‘Connection’ is currently featured in the gallery and there will be a full programme of events taking place in the cinema and theatre.
Mr Daykin also added: “It’s refreshing to know that there is still a demand for quality live entertainment. This will give people another reason to come to Wells, even in the winter months.”
Background to the Wells Maltings project
The Wells Maltings is a former malt house which has now been converted into a £5 million state-of-the-art community hub for arts, music, film and entertainment.
Building work on the site started in February last year following the decision to completely refurbish the establishment and it incorporates the Wells Heritage Centre, a 140 seat cinema and theatre and the Handa Gallery.
Also included is the Visitor Information Centre, the Clore Community Studio and a cafe area.
The community hub will have eight permanent members of staff and will also be run by around 100 volunteers who are donating their free time to the project.
Simon Daykin, Wells Maltings director, said: “We are a not for profit organisation and everything raised will go back into running the building and events. We would not be able to exist without the work of our volunteers.
“Just come along for however long you like and see what we’re about.”
For more information and events listings, visit www.wellsmaltings.org.uk.