LOCAL schoolchildren gathered with members of the community to officially open a new hub for the West Wylam area.

The Friends of Eastwoods Park group has worked with Northumberland County Council to bring the former bowls pavilion at Eastwoods Park back to life as a community cafe hub.

It had stood empty for around 20 years, but is now named the Miners Lamp Community Cafe and Hub, as a nod to the park’s history as a miners welfare park for miners working at the nearby West Wylam Colliery.

The building had become dilapidated, but £20,000 from Northumberland County Council had allowed the group to update electrics, plumping and the ceilings, while other grants including from Northumberland Community Chest went towards the refurbishment of the kitchen. It was officially opened on Tuesday by children from Adderlane Academy.

Friends of Eastwoods Park trustee, Russ Greig, has been carrying out much of the work. He said: “I will be managing the cafe and hopefully working with volunteers. The plan is to work with people with leaning difficulties or long term unemployed, to help them develop social skills and help get them back into working life.

“There is also a community room, which is used for classes. The first one was this morning and it was meditation. It’s good to see it all finally come together.”

Another room in the building will be used as a food bank, with the group working with Sam Gilchrist at West Northumberland Foodbank, meanwhile displays of pictures and memorabilia from west Wylam have been placed in the hub. This includes a medal awarded to a Thomas Gribben in 1894 for saving someone’s life in the colliery, which was donated to be put on display by his grandson. County councillor Gordon Stewart said: “I am delighted the history of West Wylam has been recorded here.”