This article appeared in the Dumfries Courier on Friday 26th January 1990.
A long awaited bowling green is on the cards for Georgetown. There is excitement at the Georgetown Community Centre, at Lochvale House in the centre of Dumfries’ largest private housing estate. The building has been adopted by Nithsdale District Council and now the Centre management committee is poised to devlop more of the site’s potential.
“This is an opportunity that we cannot afford to miss,” says chairman John Douglas and he is inviting ideas and suggestions to make use of the rambling grounds. Presently a bowling green is heavily backed, but other possibilities include a playground, tennis courts and areas for volleyball and five aside football. A public meeting has been arranged for Thursday, February 1 at 7.30pm to guage support for a green. “There was huge response to it in a survey years ago,” said Mr Douglas, “There is nothing on the Georgetown side.” The bowling will be public although a club may form which will have non-exclusive use of it.
The Centre is home to a number of organisations – over 60’s and youth clubs, playgroup, mother and toddler group, model railway club, Christian fellowship, WRI, keep fit classes and a cafe. A new project has been an after school group in which school children up to the age of 12 and whose parents are working or are in full time education, are supervised.
Lochvale built in 1806, was a boys’ home before Georgetown Community Council leased it in 1981. The Council then bought it with grants from the Scottish Education Department, the local authority and their own funds. Various cash crisis have threatened to swamp the project in those ten years until the District Council agreed to take on the building six months ago.
“It’s a tremendous jump forward. We have thought about developing the grounds for a long time but all our energies have had to go into renovating the house and fund raising. Now we are able to start looking at ideas,” said Mr Douglas.
This article was reported in an edition of the Georgetown Community News, unfortunately this publication carried no date, best guess is 1994.
It’s been a red letter day for Georgetown’s Community Centre. The building has been extended, given a fresh face with a new coat of paint and is now playing host to a range of big events which are demonstrating what a flexible facility it is.
The £85,000 extension, creating a new purpose built hall for functions, shows and other events was followed by a donation of £450 from builders Robison and Davidson which, in addition to a £1500 grant from Nithsdale District Council, allowed the centre’s management committee to buy the furniture the new extension needed. Then came a centre facelift when it got a fresh coat of paint and work has just finished on the installation of a playground system within the grounds. “It has undoubtedly been a great year for us,” says John Douglas chairman of the centre’s management committee.
“We are now pushing hard to promote the facilities we have and to encourage people to think about using the centre for a wide range of events,” he says. The management recently staged a fashion show, not just to raise funds, but to help demonstrate the versatility of the centre which has also been the venue for groups and organisations displaced from other halls. St Michael’s Church, for example, held a social evening in the Georgetown Centre because there own church hall was too small.
The extension has brought in people who would have no normal connection with the centre, letting them see what facilities are on offer. Given that one of the principal tasks facing the management committee at the moment is the promotion of the facilities bringing new people who have never seen inside the centre before through its doors is vitally important. The fact that the centre has had such a radical overhaul means that it is now available for a much wider range of events and uses than it was before, something the management committee realise they have to reinforce in the minds of local people. “we are taking a hard look at our after school care provisions. Can we, for example, fund the appointment of someone to work, perhaps 25 hours per week to mange the after school and nursery provision we offer,” says Mr Douglas.
The management group is also having to look to appoint a caretaker. As the demand for the centre increases there is an increasing demand for someone to open and close the building and to set up the rooms for meetings. “as the centre expands we are having to take a comprehensive look at the way it is run and our need for manpower,” says Mr Douglas. Georgetown Community Centre is now ready and able to for any size of organisation planning almost any kind of function, there is a standard scale of charges but John Douglas points out that they do have to be open to some negotiation.
“We are first and foremost a community centre if a group or organisation from the community wants, or needs, the use of the centre but would have problems finding the money then we are quite prepared to be flexible to try and make it possible for them to gain access to the centre and the facilities it can offer. We want this building to be the focal point of the community life in Georgetown and the best way of doing that is by ensuring that as many people as possible are able to use it,” says Mr Douglas.
New groups which have recently started include a dance club on a Sunday evening. Aerobics teachers use the facilities for classes, in addition to the Georgetown Playgroup, over 60s club, Mother and Toddlers Group, Youth Clubs and after schools groups which all use the centre on a regular basis.
The management committee also still plan to run their own fund raising events. Plans are in hand for a race night in the new year.
Further instalment on the History of Lochvale House will follow, continuing its story from the establishment of the Boys Home to the Present Day.