AN HISTORIC community building is the first to receive a grant from the Bacup High Street Heritage Action Zone (HAZ).

In 2020 Rossendale Borough Council was successful in securing just over £1million from Historic England for a four-year project to repurpose old buildings and underused floor space.

The Aged, Blind and Disabled (ABD) Centre on Burnley Road, Bacup, was built as a Liberal Club in 1892 and the building and furniture cost £5,000 - £2,000 of which was provided by John Henry Maden - one of the town's benefactors and a former JP, a liberal councillor, county councillor, Mayor of Bacup and MP for Rossendale.

Bacup Borough Council bought the building in the 1960s and when its future was uncertain in 2003, a group of trustees took over the management.

In January 2021, the trustees appointed Peter Dunn as centre development manager and since then he has overseen improvements to the inside of the premises.

Now the £92,000 HAZ grant will see the exterior upgraded, with replacement sash windows and a new, safe more welcoming main entrance off Harcourt Street, next to the Post Office.

Peter said: "There was a call for a manager to help and support the trustees, but I didn't just want to manage the building, I wanted to help to effectively revitalise the premises, raise awareness and increase usage.

"A grant from Lancashire Environmental Fund helped us to replace the heating system and we secured National Lottery funding over three years to start the process of raising awareness and increasing usage. It also funded my post and that of centre caretaker Steve Shuttler."

Over the last six months, the centre has been upgraded and the original lift has been brought back into use, retaining its heritage, but updating the control panels and safety mechanism at a cost £32,000.

Bacup Family Centre is now a new tenant and operates from the top floor office and has a lounge for counselling, a kitchen for cookery training and a large open plan loft space as an activity room.

Peter said: "We have Burnley, Pendle and Rossendale Council for Voluntary Service, who have been tenants for three years, Slimming World, Bacup Karate Club, Pilates, an educational one-to-one support service and AA meetings.

"In July, the Friendly Cuppa Club started every Thursday from 9.30am-11.30am and a successful cheese and wine evening was held last month."

Portfolio holder for Health, Leisure and Bacup Regeneration Councillor Barbara Ashworth said: "To me, this is the centre of Bacup and it should be the hub.

"I am really pleased to see the work that has been carried out and it is going to open up all sorts of opportunities for different groups of all ages to use the facilities.

"The planned change to the entrance is crucial and I am delighted that Peter welcomes people to call in and have a look around if they are going past.

"I see a bright future for the centre and we are very lucky to have this building in Bacup."