Southwick Community Centre
We are one of the oldest community associations in the country, officially founded at a public meeting in January 1945. The site was then a set of redundant farm buildings, badly in need of renovation.
A determined set of volunteers, led with great vision by Stanley Baker, worked for many years to bring the site into use, bit by bit. Their efforts were facilitated by the Southwick Urban District Council, which acquired the freehold of the site and supported the process of renovation. The Association today still occupies the site under a lease, now from Adur District Council.
Parts of the grand Homestead building date back to the sixteenth century, with later phases of improvement including some which used stone ‘recycled’ from earlier mediaeval buildings in the area. Later farmyard structures on the site included a classic Sussex barn, cowsheds, stables and piggeries.
After the painstaking process of bringing these buildings back into use, attention turned to improvement and expansion of the facilities. Each decade from 1950 to 2000 saw ambitious new development projects, which included:
Addition of the large new Garden Room.
Addition of a new wing linking the Homestead with the Barn, containing a café, common room, kitchen and office. Aisles were built onto the Barn and the stage area was widened.
addition of the Glebe Room.
Redevelopment of former stable block to create the new Baker Room and Penney Room.
A major project, grant-aided by the Arts Council National Lottery Fund, and supported by many other donors, completely rebuilt the stage end of the Barn and refurbished the main hall. Older workshop buildings were redeveloped into the new Comber Wing, housing various rooms and two large theatre workshops.
The period since 2000 was initially one of consolidation, in a harsher economic climate – and one also where the scope for public funding was ebbing away and where other forms of grant funding became much scarcer. We were nevertheless able to weather these changes by adapting the way we work and by continuing the long tradition of local fundraising initiatives. The larger projects that were undertaken focussed on the central section of the complex, added in the 1960s, which was really showing its 40+ years! We carried out a major refurbishment of the café, bar and kitchen areas. After that, we undertook a major refit of the office and reception area, and the main toilet area – and then a widening and modernisation of the central foyer.
ince 2015 we have been working on a major set of external improvements – to the main entrance, the public garden, and the wider appearance of the exterior around the whole site. The aim is to “open out” the Centre’s appearance across the whole frontage on Southwick Street – all 100 yards of it. The spirit of the Centre has always been open, welcoming and outward-looking, but the physical changes now under way are already helping to get that spirit across to everyone seeing the place afresh or for the first time.
You can find out more about the these new and ongoing improvements here.
The Community Centre has a long and interesting history – and it also has a large amount of documentary material which is badly in need of reorganising, so it can be made more accessible! We are very keen to find volunteers who might be interested in helping us as honorary ‘archivists’. Please get in touch if you would like to know more!
Southwick Community Centre Thank You, Community
Quick links to the information
Highlights of the Southwick Community Centre