Blaze-hit Ripon community centre bounces back

A picture from 2015 of improvement work at St Wilfrid's Community Centre
A picture from 2015 of improvement work at St Wilfrid's Community Centre

A recent fire at St Wilfrid’s Community Centre in Ripon has failed to derail modernisation work, volunteers say.

The fire, which broke out in one of the centre’s outbuildings in the early hours of the morning, is a setback, they acknowledged.

But community activities are continuing as normal in general at the Trinity Lane project and work to transform St Wilfrid’s into a low cost hub for the whole of the Ripon Community will resume shortly ,it is hoped.

Bernadette Barnes, chairperson from St. Wilfrid’s Community Centre Committee, said: “A fire occurred in one of the outbuildings which is currently under refurbishment. Fortunately, the main building hasn’t been affected.

“It is a minor setback but all is in hand. We are working closely with the contractor to ensure that the project will be completed with minimal delay.”

The accident comes shortly after St Wilfrid’s Community Centre Project was boosted by news of £45,000 grant from fundraising body WREN.

Ironically, the fire broke out in one of the outbuildings where a new boiler was being fitted with the grant money.

North Yorkshire Fire & Rescue Service confirmed it sent two fire crews from Ripon to the fire.

A spokesperson said: “The fire is believed to have started in a brick outbuilding before spreading to an adjacent warehouse.

“The brick building has been totally destroyed by fire and the warehouse has suffered very slight fire damage to its roof timbers.

“The crews used two breathing apparatus, two hose reel jets, two thermal imaging cameras and various small tools. The cause is believed to be accidental.”

Although the fire caused a slight interruption to the time schedule for completing the current work, St Wilfrid’s main building itself fortumately suffered minimal smoke damage.

The £45,000 grant from WREN’s FCC community action fund is being used to provide a new heating system and upgraded toilet facilities.

Bernadette Barnes, chairperson from St Wilfrid’s Community Centre Committee, said: “Our Community Centre is currently being developed to provide the whole of the Ripon Community with a low cost hub.

“For almost two years, major refurbishment has been going on to develop this beautiful building from a former nursery unit into a community centre with various spaces for different groups to use.

“Several local trusts and funds have enabled the progress of this valuable work, all of whom will be acknowledged when the refurbishment is complete.”

WREN is a not-for-profit national company first set up in 1997 to award grants to communities, biodiveristy and heritage projects.