The Hidden Gem in Stanwix
There’s a hidden gem amongst the range of city supported community centres in Carlisle! It’s not the glorious manor house of Morton or the purpose built perfection of Belah; but the modest 1 room prefab at the heart of the old village of Stanwix. Sitting opposite the school that serves Stanwix kids; next door to the church of St. Michael’s and a short stagger from the Crown and Thistle: It really is at the centre of one of Carlisle’s communities.
Looking for a Community Centre in Carlisle to Hire for parties meetings or classes. You won’t go far wrong with Stanwix Community Centre Carlisle!
Most Carlisle community centres are supported by the city financially, and some have been gifted to the city and their local communities by wealthy benefactors. Morton Manor was gifted to the city of Carlisle in 1944 by Robert Chance. Belah was purpose built and Botcherby community centre is in the buildings of an old primary school. Stanwix community centre is a different kettle of fish though. We do not receive funding from the city council, though we do get help in other ways. This is due to the way the land and buildings were passed over to the community by the county council.
As Stanwix School grew in popularity and its catchment area saw more housing built, it needed space to accommodate the growing numbers of children. So, back in the mists of time, two temporary prefabricated classrooms were deposited on a parcel of land across the street from the main site. These temporary classrooms (which were a familiar sight in many Carlisle schools for many more years than intended) housed many happy cohorts of children. However the need to cross the street several times a day was unsatisfactory. Speaking as a teacher who has spent many, many months in a prefab, it is quite an isolated position to be in for the teacher and not brilliant for the children.
In the eighties a new head teacher decided to sort things out and eventually beat the county council into submission; driving through an ambitious refurbishment and expansion of the main site’s buildings. The two huts were redundant.
Enter the community idea! Cumbria County council offered the buildings to Stanwix community as a venue for community activities – something sadly lacking at that time, and as a base for an early years setting close to the primary school that the children would attend. It just needed the formation of a community organisation which hadn’t really existed in this part of Carlisle previously. And that is how the Stanwix Community Association came into being.
From the outset the huts were well past their sell by date! The Association managed them for nearly a decade and saw the successful growth of both the Stanwix Playgroup in one of the huts and the successful growth of the Stanwix Allsorts Club who provide after school activities for children. A turning point was reached in 2009 when an OFSTED inspection praised the work of the Playgroup and its staff but was highly critical of the state of repair of the hut that they were housed in.
It was clear that new facilities were needed – and quickly. After many twists, turns, false starts and dashed hopes we somehow managed, with the determination of the playgroup leaders, the ability of the education department to find pots of funding that could be used and the support of everyone involved in the SCA and Stanwix Allsorts – to get one of the huts replaced with a modern and functional early years building. It proved impossible to raise sufficient funds to fully redevelop the community centre as well at the same time.
Disappointment was turned round and converted into drive. With the skills that were available from the small group of people who had stuck with the SCA through all the difficult times; a way was found to refurbish the old community centre hut. This was essential for it to compete (with a small c) for users, with the other venues around Carlisle, to generate more income to ensure its future.
And that is where we are today. Stanwix is now able to stand up and rub shoulders with even the grandest community centre in Carlisle, with our very different setup. So if you set out on the search for; a meeting venue, a room to hold a party, a meeting room or somewhere to hold a councillor’s surgery and you Google “community centre Carlisle” don’t pass Stanwix by, we might have just the meeting space at the price you need!