Past, present and future

Past

Community Centre
The historic Central Schools building, home to our Community Centre, was built in 1893 and so has served the community, in one form or another, for 125 years.   Purpose built to house boys’ and girls’ schools by the new Norton-under-Cannock School Board, it was extended to house a boys’ secondary school in 1932 and again in 1972 to form a mixed comprehensive.  The school itself closed in 1980 and the building began a new life, initially offering a youth club and a training base for people with learning disabilities.  Brownhills Community Association gradually developed and began to deliver more services from the Centre, culminating in an extensive refurbishment programme to meet modern standards whilst retaining many of the building’s original features, which are widely appreciated by those of our visitors who attended the school as pupils. The building is now locally listed and is recognised as an Asset of Community Value. The Association is a charity and re-invests its income into the Centre.

Present

The Lamp Logo

Today, the Community Centre continues to move with the times and adapt to changes in the needs of its customers. A Friendly Gym, large nursery and motorcycle academy share the extension and a number of groups and activities run from the centre day and night throughout the week, ranging from sports and fitness classes for the Over 50’s to Tae Kwon-Do classes as well as handicraft groups, classes in gardening, art and photography, indoor short mat bowling sessions and the monthly Friendship Group afternoon tea and film shows. 
 
Perhaps the most radical development in the life of the building has been the development of The Lamp - a compact multi-purpose arts theatre boasting modern lighting, sound and cinema systems and flexible staging with seating for up to 100 people. The Lamp has hosted touring theatrical productions and concerts with local bands and singers, while the Centre hosts rehearsals and shows for local performing arts charity Dreams in Action, L’Rythmix, Spotlight Youth Productions, and Followspot Productions. The long-established Brownhills Musical Theatre Company, Walsall Operatic Society and Walsall Gilbert & Sullivan Society have also recently moved their rehearsals to the site.  These help the Association meet the challenge of sustaining community-based services as grant-funded services continue to diminish.

Future

Wedding Layout

The Centre’s services will continue to evolve and adapt as the needs of the local community change.  In an age increasingly dominated by online shopping and on-demand services, there will still be a role for a safe, welcoming place to counter the health impacts of loneliness, social isolation and physical inactivity. People will continue to find here a place where the basic human needs of shared experience and communal activity will be met.  Lots of people think that the Centre is like the TARDIS - it seems so much bigger on the inside - and perhaps one day in the future we will be able to travel back in time and discover which former pupils chiselled their initials into the brickwork!