Celebration of £4.9m plan for Sessions House in Spilsby
and live on Freeview channel 276
Residents packed the Franklin Hall on Thursday night to celebrate the announcement and find out more about the project.
There were even trapeze artists to entertain the audience while they enjoyed tea and cakes ahead of the presentation – evidence of the vision of arts director Bruce Knight who over the years has still managed to bring the crumbling Grade 11 listed building to life with events.
"I’m really excited after many years of working behind the scenes to make this happen,” he told Lincolnshire World.
"After the initial preparations which are beginning, work will start next year to transform the building.”
"People can expect a world class arts hub,” added chairman of the board Kevin Lockyer. “I’ve been involved with Sessions House for 10 years putting on small productions but now it can be so much more than an old building with a couple of rooms.”
Three historic sites in the Lincolnshire Wolds are set to benefit from £8m Levelling Up funding from the Government thanks to the efforts of East Lindsey District Council.
Other projects include £2.05m for Alford Manor House to create a permanent function space as well as the relocation and improvement of the tearoom and kitchen, freeing up space for improved displays within the museum. £1.1m has also been secured for Alford Windmill to help save the historic mill.
Lydia Rusling, East Lindsey’s assistant director of economic growth was at the Franklin Hall to give a presentation.
She explained it was second time lucky applying for the government funding after focusing on the heritage value of the Sessions House.
"We are over the moon to finally be able to talk about it,” she said. “I first met Bruce in 2019 as part of a scheme to look at how we could rejuvenate our market towns and he brought Spilsby to life in a series of events that showed the vision for the Sessions House.”
The project aims to support local creative events in Lincolnshire and nurture local talent, developing the local cultural industry to bring exciting new experiences to residents and visitors.
The funding will see the old courtroom will become a multipurpose community space and theatre, and the building will also provide creative workspaces and a café.
Coun Wendy Bowkett, who represents Spilsby on Lincolnshire County Council, was in the audience. “It’s fantastic news,” she said. “The Sessions House has been trying for funding for many years and this can only be good news for the town.”
Resident Bonny Smith said she was delighted the heritage of the building would be saved. “Many people don’t realise the trial for the last person to be hung in Spilsby was there.
"In its heyday stars such as Midge Ure performed there.
"I’ve heard the community cinema could return there and it would be nice to see the children’s sessions back.”
Town Councillor Lee Marsh said the council was delighted to hear the news. “It will help us push the town to become more of a destination for events.
"It promises so much. Let’s celebrate that.”