Village welfare gets a £15,0000 makeover

HATS OFF & Peter Millar and centre manager Susan Heads salute the work carried out at Pegswood Welfare, with trustees Nancy Nichol, Margaret Davison and Jean Froud.
HATS OFF & Peter Millar and centre manager Susan Heads salute the work carried out at Pegswood Welfare, with trustees Nancy Nichol, Margaret Davison and Jean Froud.
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A TRADITIONAL village building has undergone a transformation after securing vital money from UK Coal.

The future of Pegswood Welfare Centre in Front Street is looking more secure after an image makeover, which has been funded by a £15,480 grant from the Potland Burn Surface Mine scheme.

Centre trustees Jean Froud, Margaret Davison and Nancy Nichol secured the largest amount that the community fund has given to date for a major frontage improvement works project that has breathed new life into the facility.

Margaret said: “The centre is a great resource for the village but if you imagine arriving in Pegswood as a visitor it was not the best of visual experiences. It didn’t give anyone an incentive to use our facilities.”

The miners’ welfare was built in 1927. Each man gave twopence out of his wages towards the upkeep.

The hall was used for dances and wedding receptions. A cinema was opened in 1928, initially for silent movies. Later, they used to show films five nights a week and a matinee for children on Saturday mornings.

For a century, life in Pegswood was dominated by the mining industry. The mine has been closed for more than 40 years, the familiar pit head has gone and its glory days as a cinema and dance hall may belong in the past, but the welfare is still used by friendship and weight watchers groups and for carpet bowls, bingo sessions, tea dances, exercise classes for over 50s and many other activities.

Nancy added: “This is a fantastic centre with a strong social side to it and the frontage refurbishment has given us an improved image that has also enhanced the main street of the village.

“UK Coal’s help is like a birthday that has been a long time coming.”

Mine manager Peter Millar said: “Pegswood Welfare is well-used by a wide cross-section of the local community and the community fund is a unique opportunity to benefit local organisations – it has massive potential to make an impact on the surrounding communities.”

For every tonne of coal that is sold from surface mining at Potland Burn, 24p goes into the mine’s community fund that is set to invest £500,000 in local projects. The finance is non-repayable.

Grants are gifted to the community to encourage regeneration and growth in the area and so far 62 projects have benefited, including sports teams, community parks, craft clubs for the disadvantaged and allotment societies.

Twelve seams of coal, with a combined thickness of over five metres, are being recovered as part of a six-and-three-quarter-year project at Potland Burn – with two million tonnes of coal expected to be yielded by the time production finishes late in 2015.

Site restoration plans include the creation of a 71-hectare nature conservation area, woodlands, hedgerows, footpaths and bridleways.