The red ribbon was cut and the wall plaques uncovered on Thursday, September 22 when Ash Heritage Centre was opened.
The idea of a centre to store and conserve photographs, maps and historical documents concerned with Ash heritage was born in November 2007 and Ash Heritage Group was formed with this in mind.
The community play, about the Swing Riots of the 1830s, funded by Awards for All and scripted and produced by Chalkfoot, raised awareness of the project and involved more than 100 parishioners.
The location for the centre was decided to be an extension at the back of the Village Hall. With the help and encouragement of the Parish Council and Village Hall management team, the project moved forward.
£70,000 was raised through the Parish Council, local village trusts, Kent County Council and Dover District Council, the Christina Foyle foundation, Bridging the Gap, generous local donors and the Heritage Appeal Fund. A purpose built centre with a mezzanine was the result.
The opening ceremony was attended by the D.D.C. chair, councillor Sue Nicholas, plus local D.D.C. councillors Sue Chandler, Mike Conolly and Trevor Bartlett.
K.C.C. Councillor Leyland Ridings performed the opening ceremony. Invited guests who have helped the project, representatives of local organisations and 100 supporter membes of Ash Heritage Group filled the Village Hall to capacity.
The evening started with a fantastic trumpet fanfare by a young Manwoodian dressed appropriately in Napoleonic era scarlet uniform
This heralded a 15 minute scene from the Swing Riots Community play, performed by members of the committee and Ash Drama group.
Speeches by the Ash Heritage Group chair, Ann Foat, and the chairman of the Village Hall, Jean Ryan, followed - thanking the committee members and supporter members for their wonderful support throughout the projec; both financial and practical, acting as stewards and helpers at events, making coffee and putting up plaques among other things.
Without this community input the funding applications would not have succeeded. Ann Foat was thanked for her role in leading the project.
After a lighthearted speech warning us of his many mishaps when opening things, Leyland Ridings formally opened the centre and managed to cut the red ribbon and unveil the plaque without further mishap.
Everyone then enjoyed a glass of wine and the splendid refreshments provided by Ash W.I. All seemed very engaged by the exhibition of material already held by the Ash Heritage Group, which ranged from old trade books and old sale documents to many old photographs and memorabilia of World War Two in the village.
Our next project is Ash in World War Two, for which Ash Heritage Group is collecting memories - either on paper or recorded - as well as any old photographs and artefacts. Please contact us if you can help.
The centre is not yet regularly open to the public, as all the material needs collating and shelving needs to be installed. The exhibition set up for the opening can be seen again on Saturday, October 22 at the centre, Ash Village Hall from 10am to 12noon.
Anyone who is interested is very welcome. Heritage tea towels are now on sale from Ash village shops or 01304 812121
Details of our activities are on: ashheritage.blogspot.com