Haverhub welcomes you to their launch party with Jerome Flynn and
Honey Fungus from 7 pm this Friday.
After ten years working opposite the abandoned Old Post Office Building, Gitti Coats now finds herself leading the Community Interest Company set up to save this wonderful building and create a fabulous resource centre for our county town. Come to the party and have a first peep at this new community centre.
Gitti had become concerned about the slow progress in the regeneration of Haverfordwest’s once thriving centre and distraught at the number of neglected buildings falling into disrepair. She pestered local councillors and met with the Director of Regeneration on several occasions, to discuss various options around the setting up of her vision of a community hub for the town. Gitti’s dream was to have a central place for the many enthusiastic people to collaborate in bringing the life back into Haverfordwest.
Only a few months ago, the Old Post Office building in Quay Street was suggested and Gitti arranged to view the property with the owner on a visit from his home in Dorset. Anyone who visits the building will be astonished by its deceptive size and spaciousness. Parts of the property had been severely water-damaged after lead roofing had been stolen, and the outdoor sheds infested with pigeons, but it is still easy to see past these horrors and marvel at the beautiful proportions and potential of the property.
Shocked at how much dilapidation had occurred, the owner put the property on the market early in 2017 and negotiations regarding lease costs were not going too well. There was not enough time or funding to explore the option of a council purchase, for later acquisition by the community, and Gitti began to feel that another location would have to be found. A Facebook page had enlisted many offers of practical help and amongst those was one for financial help from Jerry Evans, who is already renovating the old SWALEC building in Haverfordwest and is passionately committed to “waking up the town”. He purchased the building and offered it to the Haverhub project for a much-reduced rent and the serious fundraising and planning began!
A brave group with a big vision and lots of determination.
Such a huge undertaking has completely overtaken Gitti’s life and she has been overwhelmed with offers of help and those hoping to become part of the centre. Lots of intelligent discussions took place at an inaugural meeting and she began to feel that this could really work out. Jerome Flynn has become Patron and the Haverhub has registered as a Community Interest Company (registration number 10805101). There will very soon be a recruitment for directors and committee leaders for specific parts of the project. If you would like to be considered, please contact Haverhub to join the other lovely interested and varied band of Haverfriends.
Phase one of the work will concentrate on the yard and outdoor sheds, while the major funding for the whole building is sought. Once the holes have been repaired and the pigeons persuaded to move on – with the help of the Pembrokeshire Falconry team – the old sheds will become a market and events space; somewhere for a Youth Club and where local clubs can gather. The project team hope to get the sheds into a roughly ready state for use by groups who can then decorate and fit out as they wish; A wet-room, showers and changing areas would be good to enable cycling, rowing and other sports teams to meet and hold sessions, perhaps.
The Old Post Office Building, Haverfordwest.
As Gitti showed me around, I was fascinated to see the relics of the post office workings as well as some of the stunning original features that will hopefully remain. Despite having been empty for many years, the building is mostly dry and very light, with huge arched windows and a galleried glass ceiling in the old sorting office area. Interesting bits left behind, like the post-office stamps, have been saved. The post-office counter would make a stunning bar area and a local micro-brewer is hoping to utilise the copper-lined safe-room. It is easy to see so much potential for a shared community space.
Gitti has great vision and the team helping so far have identified potential uses for the various parts of the building, including an indoor market; classes and rehearsal rooms; a meeting space; offices and workshops for local small businesses; an art space for exhibitions, as well as plenty of rental space for events and gatherings of all sorts.
There are some fascinating reminders of its former role – the spy chamber, overlooking the old sorting and cash space, being just one area of great interest. A 94-year old local resident recalls being watched over by shadowy figures as she worked here just after the war, and many other elderly passers-by have stopped to express their delight at the salvation of this historical part of the town.
The Old Post Office has some elegant architectural features; though most valuable internal fittings were removed, there are still lots of parquet floor tiles to salvage – some will soon be for sale to raise funds. Original iron radiators and a rather attractive staircase remain. It seems very important to retain as much of the past grandeur as possible.
As well as funding applications, there is much to do in terms of clearing, surveying, repairing and decorating. The amazing Haverfriends have already cleared out much of the interior. The Fire Officer, Keith Jenkins, has just visited to advise on safety and numerous community groups are already getting involved in the work that is needed. Keith and the Haverfordwest firefighters are coming to jet wash the yard on Wednesday prior to the party, which will be very welcome! Change of use and planning permission will be applied for; a Lottery grant application and other funding streams are also being worked on.
Already the project has received an EU LEADER grant from PLANED and match-funding from Haverfordwest Town Council.
There is so much more to do and still an uphill struggle to overcome, but Gitti has been quite taken aback by such, “…unexpected generosity and collaboration.”
“…unexpected generosity and collaboration” – Gitti Coats, HaverHub.
Friends of Haverhub.
Already much in evidence are the Haverhub friends and helpers.
If you would like to get involved in any way then please get in touch (Click here). Expressions of interest are being invited for those keen to become part of the hub, once completed. Volunteers to offer hands-on help, raffle prizes and donations will all make a difference!
The launch party was held on Friday 8th September, in the yards.
With food, music and lots of fun – Follow progress on the Haverhub Facebook page.
“A giant leap for Haverfordwest!”
Would you like to take a look round The Old Post Office?
Play the video, below:
- Would you like to donate the cost of a cuppa to help in creating this Community Centre?
….every penny will benefit the Pembrokeshire community. Donate with peace of mind.
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