Booster funding matched the investment provided by over 800 local residents to fund the restoration of Stretford Public Hall’s Victorian grade II listed ballroom, for community use.
Stretford Public Hall was built in 1878 by John Rylands, a local philanthropist, aka “The Cotton King” and Manchester’s first multi-millionaire. Since then, it has been turned into a public library, public baths, a theatre, and council offices. Today, it has been turned back into a community hall by local people for local people.
In 2014, the Grade II listed building fell into disrepair and Stretford Public Hall faced closure. The local community stepped in and brought about the hall’s transfer to the Friends of Stretford Public Hall, a member-owned charitable organisation led by local residents.
Having bought the hall, they wanted to restore the historic ballroom to its former glory to create the largest cultural space in Stretford. The aim was to:
- Increase the hall’s capacity from 100 to 400 people.
- Install soundproofed windows and better fire escapes.
- Accommodate more people and more community activities, including community cinema screenings.
- Create space to hire for events such as conferences, concerts and weddings – to generate income to be reinvested into the maintenance of the hall and community activities.
To fund the restoration, they decided to raise funds through a community share offer. The Community Shares Booster Programme provided £10,000 towards the development of the share offer, which contributed towards work on the business plan; promotion publicity and the Standard Mark assessment.
They reached their £250,000 target in just two months, with the Booster funding the first £100,000 of shares. Overall, 800 members, mainly from the local area, invested.