Institute’s first year of success

A VILLAGE community centre, run by volunteers for the last 12 months after council bosses pulled out of running it, has gone from strength to strength.

Blackburn with Darwen Council stopped its involvement with The Barlow Institute in Edgworth last December.

Responsibility for the Bolton Road venue was handed over to The Barlow committee, which organises a team of more than 65 volunteers.

North Turton and Tockholes councillor Colin Rigby, who is part of the committee, said: “We have got 65 to 70 volunteers who have stepped up and done a fantastic job.

“It is all down to those volunteers. Without them this place wouldn’t be running. It is a different place to what it was 12 months ago.

“The building is getting really well used.

There are events on all the time and we are now taking bookings for November next year.”

Cllr Rigby said a lot of work had been done on the building since the committee took it over.

He said: “We have spent a bit of money on the place.

“The reading room has a parquet floor that has been cleaned up and a lot of rooms have been decorated.

“We have recently been getting prices to rip out the toilets and have them refurbished.

“In our first year we have made a modest profit, which I think is good going.”

When the building was first handed over to the volunteers, council chiefs completed a raft of health and safety work.

Cllr Rigby said: “The council came in and got all the jobs done.

“Blackburn with Darwen Council has been quite good with us. I have no problem with them.”

The Barlow Institute opened in October, 1909.

It was a gift to the village from locally-born Sir Thomas Barlow, who became a top doctor in London and was royal physician to Queen Victoria.

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