Santa came to The Brownlow

Father Christmas made a surprise visit to Club Generation at their Christmas party. Santa brought a present for everybody, provided by Whitchurch Rotary Club. Impromptu Carol singing was led by Jamie. Later on, there were Carol’s again when Whitchurch Band dropped by. Both Club Generation and Whitchurch Band meet at The Brownlow every Tuesday evening.

Meet & Greet Team

The Brownlow is upping it’s game! These are our Meet & Greet Volunteers who came along yesterday for Meet & Greet Training. When you book a room, one of these good people will be there to make you feel Welcome and make sure you have everything you need. If you would like to book a room please call Wendy on 01948 302211 If you’d like to become a volunteer please call Chris on 01948 780114

Repairs to Cupola Complete

The essential repairs to the cupola on top of the Brownlow Centre are now complete.  An integral steel frame has been designed and built to fit inside the tower to stabilise it and support the heavy roof.  The rotted timber, some of which has been exposed to the elements for 130 years, has been removed and replaced.  And finally, everything has been refinished with 5 coats of high quality Johnstones’ paint for a long life.  The decision was taken not to try to clean or repaint the roof, as this would remove the patina of 130 years of ageing.

This little tower once housed the school bell, summoning children to the school for lessons, and marking the beginning and end of every school day. The bell has long since disappeared and all we are left with is this typically Victorian, decorative tower.  

The steelwork was fabricated by CJR Steel fabrication from Bronington, replacement timber was supplied by The Wood Yard, Whitchurch, and the paint was supplied by Colour Supplies, Whitchurch. 

Tree Maintenance

 Going ………………

 …………. Going ……………………

……….. Gone !

It’s always desperately sad when a tree has to come down, but this mature old specimen was beside a kiddies play area, next to a scout hut, and surrounded by residential property. Thorough forensic examination of the tree had found it to be rotting in the base, with two vertical fault lines, such that its stability couldn’t be guaranteed. So down it had to come. You can see those weaknesses extending vertically up the tree on the felled stump on both sides.

The tree surgery work was provided by Benbow Brothers of Lee Brockhurst

Concerns had been raised at the July 2018 meeting by Kink Still about the large Beech tree at the Gym end entrance and the fact that it could be causing obstructions to pedestrians and traffic. At the September meeting Glen Wilson reported that she had instructed a qualified Tree Surgeon to carry out an inspection of the Centre’s trees and submit a report that she would pay for. The report was received in time for the October meeting and confirmed that trimming works were needed to the Beech Tree to comply with Highway and Foot path clearance regulations plus trimming work to another tree overhanging the meeting room and part of the Gym. However the shock news was that the large cedar trees in each bottom corner of the car parks would need to be felled within 12 months. Quotations were obtained, and as the committee were concerned that no unnecessary or irresponsible tree destruction takes place, a second opinion was obtained and has confirmed this action was necessary in the interests of Centre Users and our immediate neighbours. Sad, but unavoidable.

Repairs to the Cupola

Over a century of wind and weather had taken its toll of the bell tower on top of The Brownlow, and even from the ground it had become visibly unstable. It has now been stabilised with an internal steel framework, fabricated offsite by CJR Engineering from Bronington to a design by our Chairman, Chris Smith. The design challenge was to create something that could be taken up there in pieces and assembled inside the bell tower,
which is also known as a cupola. The lead covered cap on top of the tower is estimated to weigh around a third of a tonne, and that was the basis for the steelwork design. The assembly work, which was undertaken by Chris himself, was limited by the hunched, kneeling position required for work inside the tiny tower, to sessions of around an hour at a time and was hampered by June’s extreme weather conditions, with record rainfall early in the month, followed by high temperatures. It took several days to complete the assembly.
Work to repair the crumbling Victorian timberwork must now be completed.

A Vision for the Future

From the Chairman of the Management Committee, Chris Smith

The Trustees have approved a new business plan this summer. The 21 page document which has taken 6 months to prepare, sets out the road map for the future of the centre. Chairman of the Trustees, Chris Smith, said that the Trustees had done a brilliant job over the last 30 years bringing this building up from a state of serious dilapidation, to a building that is safe, warm,  dry and well maintained. Furthermore they have worked hard to ensure the building is in use Monday to Friday from 7.00am until well into the evening and most weekends.  “We are now at an important crossroads in our history. We are moving from a long period of firefighting and survival  to a period when we will be concentrating on building a viable business with a stronger balance sheet, upon which we can develop a busy, vibrant community centre for the people of Whitchurch. This requires a different style of management which is why we have put so much thought & effort into creating our business plan. “
“We have set out an exciting programme of events for the coming year, and shortly we will be actively recruiting volunteers from within the community. We will be improving our disability access, and taking advice to ensure the centre is easy for dementia sufferers to use. It’s an exciting time to be in the Chair and I’m looking forward to the challenge of leading this dedicated and hardworking team. I would like to thank our recent sponsors, The Walker Trust, Whitchurch Town Council, Tesco Bags of Help and Whitchurch Rotary Club for their support”