Ambitious plan to convert old fire station into community hub

VILLAGERS have joined forces to buy and restore the old Byfleet Fire Station and convert the building into a community hub.

They have formed a trust which has an initial fundraising target of £300,000 for a project that aims to see the Grade II listed village landmark hosting events and activities for people of all ages.

Trust members with their new banner outside the fire station. From left: Jim Allen, Adele Campbell, Julian Aubert, Krista Rooney, Nicola Tait, Amanda Boote, Tessa Westlake, Julian Temple, Lee Harvey.

“The old Victorian fire station is much loved within the village and beyond,” said the village’s borough and county councillor Amanda Boote, who is one of the founders of the trust. “We have the aim of acquiring and preserving this much-loved but neglected local landmark.

“Once it’s restored and safe, the trust will bring Byfleet Fire Station back into the heart of the local community for future generations to enjoy.”

“The key aim is to provide high-quality activities and workshops that will benefit all residents, regardless of gender, age, race, religion, sexual orientation, ability, disability or any other difference.

Cllr Boote said the station has had a special place in the hearts of villagers for well over a century. It closed as a working fire station in the early 1960s but had survived in remarkably good condition.

It was now an important and potentially attractive feature of the Byfleet Conservation Area.

“The trust’s vision is to hold a range of regular activities including educational, craft, and hobby-based workshops, pop-up art galleries, craft and vintage markets and fire heritage exhibitions,” she added.

“We also intend to arrange entertainment evenings such as cinema and comedy nights and an artisan coffee shop will also be included into our business plan.”

The building is owned by Surrey County Council, whose fire brigade stationed an engine there until 1963. Its uses since then have included storage space for Woking Adventure Group.

English Heritage granted the building a Grade II listing protection in 2013, on the initiative of the Friends of Byfleet Fire Station, a group that was formed with the involvement of residents’ association and Byfleet Heritage Society members.

“The trust wants to raise enough money to purchase the building from and restore it carefully and sympathetically,” said Cllr Boote. “It will then be able to run it as an ongoing community business.

“A comprehensive market research study among local residents was carried out to determine which activities residents would like to see being held.”

Donations to the trust can be made at https://uk.gofundme.com – search for Save Byfleet Fire. For details of how to donate money directly into the trust’s bank account, email hub@byfleetfirestation.co.uk.

To keep up to date with The Byfleet Fire Station Trust’s activities, visit www.byfleetfirestation.co.uk or the Byfleet Fire Station Facebook page.

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