Buckhaven considers revival of community asset

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MEMBERS of the public have taken the chance to take a peek at ambitious plans to revitalise a Buckhaven landmark, reports MAGGIE MILLAR.

An open session was organised at the Free Gardners’ Hall by its steering group, offering people the chance to have their say in its future.

Plans were on display showing the hall as it would look with a glass extension and a new second storey built into the roof space, to accommodate five studios and two sound recording suites.

The drawings also illustrated how the College Street building would look with the main hall converted into a venue complete with stage and capacity for 234 retractable seats.

Around a dozen community groups took the opportunity to take part in the afternoon event.

They included Methil Heritage Friends, lone parent charity Gingerbread, Kinetic and Strike-A-Chord.

Linda Judge, steering group secretary, told the Mail the plans were at a first draft stage but she was really pleased with them.

“I think it would offer huge benefits to the community,” she commented.

“At the end of the day, there is nowhere else like this round here for people to go to and there isn’t a central hub for groups.”

The hall – which was built in 1900 – was known as the ‘House of a 1000 Lights’ when it operated as a silent-movie cinema.

The electricity supply was generated by a steam engine positioned outside and the seating could comfortably hold 436 people.

During the Second World War, the building also served as a first aid post.

However, in recent years, the hall has fallen out of favour with public groups.

Latterly, the facility was used by sports groups, including five-a-side football and indoor hockey teams, but they have moved to premises elsewhere.

The hall has now lain empty for over a year and has been deemed surplus to requirements by Fife Council.

It is understood the local authority will publicly advertise its sale this month.

Ms Judge emphasised the steering group had not reached any agreements with the council over its purchase.

It will not be able to do so for around six months when any other interested parties will be given the chance to submit a bid for the hall which, it is understood, will be offered at a price significantly below its market value.