The Official Opening of the restored Willow Works 2011...

Willow Works 2006
Wednesday 5th October 2011 was a very special day for Beckingham with the Official Open Day taking place of the Willow Works in Old Trent Road. It was a day of particular significance and importance for Parish Council Chairman Brian Suart and Parish Clerk Colin Gibson who were invited to perform the Opening Ceremony together.
In November 2004 Brian and Colin started a campaign to save this unique 120 year old building possibly the only one of its kind in the country.
Willow Works 2006

Their aim throughout was for it to be of some benefit and use to the community, always insisting that it should never be a financial burden on the Parish. Over the next six years they worked tirelessly as volunteers putting in a great deal of hard work, time and effort into the project. Together they overcame many difficulties and obstacles on the way, when others might have given up. Despite several setbacks their persistence and dedication helped ensure that the project succeeded.
Over 70 invited guests attended the Open Day, including dignitaries, representatives of groups and organisations who are or were involved, local businesses and members of the community. The day began with speeches led by Groundwork Chairman Jim Mould. He explained how they became involved in 2010 by taking on the ownership of the building on behalf of the community after the work had stalled due to lack of funding enabling it to be completed by Groundwork Crestra Ltd. He stated that they had employed 10 young people on the project and as a result three had gone on to gain permanent employment.

He was followed by Michael Copleston from RSPB who was extremely enthusiastic about the building and its possible uses both for the community and in conjunction with the RSPB Beckingham Marshes Project. Beckingham resident Chris du Feu from the Willow Works Community Group then gave a brief slide show and talk on the history, renovation and restoration of the building. He also mentioned the proposed community garden, which will eventually be open to the public during daylight hours.
Lastly, Virginia Green from Trent Vale Landscape Partnership (TVLP) gave thanks to all involved and listed the sponsors. The restoration and refurbishment of the building has been the mainstay of the Heritage Lottery Funded TVLP Project for the area. Funding came from many sources including WREN, Heritage Lottery Fund, Star Energy, Environment Agency, Nottinghamshire County Council, Bassetlaw County Council, Groundwork, and Beckingham cum Saundby Parish Council.

Guests were then invited to take a tour of the whole building, where they were able to view all its facilities. They were able to view a display on the history of the building by the local History Group with members on hand to answer any questions. There was also a willow basket weaving demonstration by basket maker and craftsman Ray Lister and Samantha Pearce.

At noon Brian and Colin had the honour of performing the Opening Ceremony by cutting the ribbon together. It was a moment of great pride and emotion for them both, a culmination of all their hard work. Described on the day as stalwarts and pillars of the community, tributes were paid from many quarters. Mention must also be made of all other volunteers who helped or were involved in any way during the period of restoration. After the Opening Ceremony a delicious buffet lunch was served.
The local History Group now have a permanent room in the Willow Works and held their yearly Open Day there for the first time, making full use the building, which was considered a great success. The venue houses training and exhibition rooms, a function room and full welfare facilities. This unique building was once a thriving willow industry and significant building in the area. Brian, Colin and everyone involved hope it will again become an important focal point and resource for both the local community and businesses alike.

Some of the images used to create this page are by kind permission of Andy Wickham to whom we are extremely grateful. The images below are of some of those involved in the project including sponsors, Groundwork, TVLP and Willow Works Community Group. Please click on images to enlarge. /contact us:
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