FAR from facing closure, Blaenavon Workmen’s Hall is going from strength to strength according to the Hall’s managing director who hit back at claims that emergency repair works threatened the future of the well-loved amenity.

Rod Denley-Jones told the Chronicle, ‘The Hall is performing better than ever. There is a lot of work to be done, but rumours of closure are far wide of the mark.

‘There were parts of the parapet and the front of the building that needed to be stabilised and problems with leakage. It is a building more than a century old and so these things are to be expected.’

Repairs likely to cost in the region of £120,000 are required with up to £34,000 potentially coming from Torfaen Council.

The Hall serves not only the town of Blaenavon but many of the surrounding communities in North Monmouthshire. The cinema is particularly popular and has just invested around £20,000 in new seating, funded by Blaenavon Town Council and the Hall committee.

A further £90,000, to be spent on the essential structural repairs, has been applied for from the Welsh Government which could be released before the end of the year.

Additional funding of £34,000 has also been sought from the council’s Blaenavon Regeneration Specific Reserve which is held specifically for projects in the town.

Mayor of Blaenavon, Gareth Davies stated, ‘The Hall is the jewel in the crown of our town, paid for by the working people of this community. The Town Council as well as the people of Blaenavon are totally committed to supporting the Hall well into the future.’

A Torfaen Council report commented, ‘The delivery of community activities/services is going from strength to strength, however, on-going problems with water ingress and subsequent long term water damage is threatening the long term delivery/progression of this provision.’

The Hall, built in 1895, has been described as, ‘One of the most important and impressive community buildings within the World Heritage Site.’

Originally financed through weekly subscriptions from local workers, the Hall has been the focal point of leisure, cultural and educational activities in the closely-knit town for the past century.

Mr Denley-Jones said, ‘We have just spent a further £85,000 on new energy-efficiency improvements, new front doors, many new windows and interior portioning to help improve usage. also we have recently installed new state-of-the-art stage lighting and a sound system.

‘Events are frequently sold out well ahead of opening nights and we are looking forward to a packed programme of events going forward,’ said Mr Denley-Jones.

The last major repairs to the Hall took place in the early 1990s after drain and weather damage.

Emphasising the need for repairs the council stated, ‘There is a significant risk to public safety should the building continue to deteriorate There is strong public support for this building.

‘Blaenavon Workmen’s Hall provides the community with the cinema, concerts, snooker and table tennis. It is also the home for many groups and societies, and hosts conferences and meetings.’

Last week a Torfaen council report revealed that the Grade II-listed Blaenavon Workmen’s Hall was in need of emergency repair works costing £120,000 to prevent further deterioration which could lead to “a significant risk to public safety.”

Falling stonework from the front façade required emergency scaffolding to be erected over the entrance to the building to ensure public safety in April.

Following a survey it was estimated that it will cost £120,000 to carry out repairs to the stone work caused by rain water penetrating several areas of the building.

Blaenavon World Heritage Site status is at risk if the ‘Outstanding Universal Value’ of a cultural world heritage property is jeopardised.

The council report adds: “There is a significant risk to public safety should the building continue to deteriorate.

“Torfaen has a legal duty to ensure public safety and would need to either ensure the building is put back into a fit state for use or consider closing the building to the public.

“There is strong public support for this building and a threat of closure could lead to negative publicity for the council.”