Slaughterhouse on track for Spring opening after CommYOUnity funding

PUBLISHED: 12:36 09 December 2014 | UPDATED: 12:42 09 December 2014

(Left to right) Amber Merrick-Potter of Escape Arts, Claire Bowry of Stratford Town Trust and Karen Williams of Escape Arts, on the new mezzanine

(Left to right) Amber Merrick-Potter of Escape Arts, Claire Bowry of Stratford Town Trust and Karen Williams of Escape Arts, on the new mezzanine

Archant

The mezzanine is in and work on the extension has begun – The Old Slaughterhouse is on track to open as a heritage centre for Stratford in just a few months.

The slaughterhouseThe slaughterhouse

The project is the vision of Escape Arts – it has become reality thanks to Stratford Town Trust and its £1million CommYOUnity Challenge.

The heritage centre was one of three winning projects; the Trust awarding a £340,000 grant to the Escape to fund the slaughterhouse transformation.

Having stood abandoned for almost half a century, Henson’s slaughterhouse, tucked away behind Sheep Street, will re-open in April as The Old Slaughterhouse Arts and Heritage Studio with two levels of exhibition and workshop space where the history of Stratford - and its people - will be showcased and archived.

The renovation started in September. Since then, a mezzanine level has been installed, with work now starting on an extension. Further work is soon to begin on the windows and floor, with facilities including a toilet and kitchen still to be installed.

Escape is looking for local companies to support and help the charity project by donating their goods and services.

So far, Tesco has come forward with £1,200 to support the development of a garden area to the front of the slaughterhouse, where vintage teas will be served.

Escape also now has a Cultural and Heritage Manager for the project, Amber Merrick-Potter, tasked with putting the opening programme together, and setting up two steering groups to devise the quarterly exhibitions.

When complete, The Old Slaughterhouse will divide its time between being a workshop during weekday mornings, and an exhibition space during afternoons and the weekends.

It is designed to celebrate and archive local history through exhibitions, arts and media workshops, inter-generational and schools projects. The slaughterhouse will also provide volunteering and training opportunities as well as apprenticeships for young people across the district.

Brian Henson - whose father built the slaughterhouse in the 1930s and who spent time working in the family business himself – will be special guest at official opening, expected in April.

Claire Bowry, Grants Manager at Stratford Town Trust, said: “The slaughterhouse is really starting to be transformed. Huge credit goes to the team at Escape for their hard work and dedication. When it opens it will be such a valuable resource for Stratford, a hidden part of the town’s history brought back to life, and a place from which so many other hidden stories will be unearthed and archived.”

For more on the Trust and the CommYOUnity Challenge go to www.stratfordtowntrust.co.uk

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