Oldest surviving miner returns to colliery site to open new community hub

Official opening of Westoe Crown Hub.
Official opening of Westoe Crown Hub.
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A community centre on the site of a former coal mine is back in action – thanks to the dedication of staff and residents.

The Hub at Westoe Crown Village has lain dormant for the last five years.

Oldest surviving Westoe miner Jim Rylance officially opens Westoe Crown Hub.

Oldest surviving Westoe miner Jim Rylance officially opens Westoe Crown Hub.

However, thanks to a band of staff and volunteers has now been given a new lease of life.

The centre, based on the site of the former Westoe Colliery, was officially opened by the oldest surviving worker from the pit.

Jimmy Rylance, 92, was chosen to cut the ribbon at the special ceremony.

He was joined by a group of his former work mates and volunteers who helped to get the building open.

It is important to us to create a legacy of hope for future generations.

Nick Roberts

The Hub at Westoe Crown Village is owned by the residents and managed by a Community Trust.

It aims to offer a range of community-based activities to residents.

Karen Wood of Asset Base Community Interest Company, which has taken on the lease to operate the building, said: “There were times when I didn’t think this day would come.

“We’ve been working hard to get a team together to get the building open for the benefit of the community and it’s a great honour to have Jimmy here to perform the opening ceremony.”

Oldest surviving Westoe miner Jim Rylance officially opens Westoe Crown Hub.

Oldest surviving Westoe miner Jim Rylance officially opens Westoe Crown Hub.

The centre aims to offer a range of activies with sessions including art and craft, boot camp fitness, baby yoga, pilates and knitting.

Maths and homework clases will also be held at The Hub.

The programme has been designed with input from the local community.

Head of operations for the Coalfields Regneration Trust, Andy Lock, said: “These facilities are a real lifeline to coalfield communities and we appreciate the efforts of those that take time to put together a schedule of activties that can benefit people.

Oldest surviving Westoe miner Jim Rylance officially opens Westoe Crown Hub.

Oldest surviving Westoe miner Jim Rylance officially opens Westoe Crown Hub.

“This official launch marks the start of a very positive future for Westoe.”

Hub Manager Nick Roberts said: “We want to bring people together as we know that this will make us a stronger community. It is important to us to create a legacy of hope for future generations.

“We want a hub that people can use to develop their skills and to make new friends. Westoe is an area that we are all very passionate about and the Community Hub is at its heart.”

Official opening of Westoe Crown Hub.
From left oldest surviving Westoe miner Jim Rylance, Peter McNestry MBE chair Coalfields Regeneration Trust, Darren Westoe Community Trust and Karen Wood Asset Base CIC

Official opening of Westoe Crown Hub. From left oldest surviving Westoe miner Jim Rylance, Peter McNestry MBE chair Coalfields Regeneration Trust, Darren Westoe Community Trust and Karen Wood Asset Base CIC