A new lease of life for Strutts school

Belper Strutt centre feature. Trustees cynthia Maddock, Janet honey, eric Manning, Kathleen Manning, Frank Smith, Patrick Downie, Mick Cleod chairman.
Belper Strutt centre feature. Trustees cynthia Maddock, Janet honey, eric Manning, Kathleen Manning, Frank Smith, Patrick Downie, Mick Cleod chairman.

strutts in Belper opened as a community venue on September 23, 2009, a little more than two-and-a-half years after the building closed as the Herbert Strutt School.

It is now being run as a community and business centre, which is in accordance with the wishes of George Herbert Strutt, who stipulated that if the building ceased to be used as a school it should be used for the benefit of the town.

Belper Strutt centre feature. library

Belper Strutt centre feature. library

The school had been created and paid for by Mr Strutt and opened on May 7, 1909. It cost £20,000.

It became a primary school as part of a Government shake-up in 1971, before closing its doors in February, 2007, when the school moved to a nearby purpose-built venue.

Now, the Strutts centre, on Derby Road, opposite Babington Hospital, is owned by an independent charity called the Guardians of Strutts.

A spokeswoman for the centre said: “The community project’s aims are to provide facilities for community activities in Belper and the surrounding area; to restore the old school building and to encourage sustainability of Belper.”

Belper Strutt centre feature.

Belper Strutt centre feature.

Strutts has 24 rooms available for hire, from small committee rooms to the impressive main hall, while the “jewel in the crown” is the Memorial Library.

More than 70 groups currently use the centre as a base for their activities, including voluntary community groups, charities and businesses.

Activities in the centre have been wide-ranging, such as exhibitions, plays, dances, musical events, wedding receptions and private parties.

The spokeswoman said: “We have an active social programme and are having a reunion of former pupils and staff on Wednesday, May 25. It is an important event linking the past with the present at Strutts.”

The project is run entirely by volunteers and is self-funding as far as running costs are concerned. There is currently no grant aid.

The spokeswoman added: “Any profits are invested in the facilities and the refurbishment of the building.

“But we desperately need more funding for the restoration and to improve facilities for users.”

The centre needs more volunteers, both to help run the site and also to carry out repairs and restoration work.

The spokeswoman said: “We have extensive plans for developing the facilities.

“We need to provide more car parking and a lift to the first-floor for elderly and disabled users. The toilets need to be remodelled for adults and changing rooms are needed. We need to recommission the old school kitchens and to create a proper food servery and bar off the main hall. The list goes on!”

If you want to get involved and join the Belper Strutts Society, or use the facilities, contact the centre on 01773 599993.