Rise of Blakeney's popular music venue

A function room opened six years ago as part of a �450,000 revamp of Blakeney's Royal British Legion clubhouse has gone on to become one of the most popular music venues in the area.

A function room opened six years ago as part of a �450,000 revamp of Blakeney's Royal British Legion clubhouse has gone on to become one of the most popular music venues in the area.

As well as attracting sell-out audiences for performances by stars ranging from folk rockers Fairport Convention to R&B legends Dr Feelgood, Blakeney Harbour Room is now the hub of the community, hosting events from tea dances to a farmers market.

Until 2002, the village's Royal British Legion branch was based in a run-down clubhouse, with a neighbouring ramshackle wooden hut used for dances and functions.

But after a specially-formed committee raised �450,000 by selling part of the site, through donations, and from holding fundraising events, the hut was knocked down and the clubhouse was replaced and extended to include a meeting room, new toilets and kitchen and a 25ft function room capable of accommodating up to 250 people.


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Events at the venue, which has state-of-the-art lighting and sound equipment, have ranged from cookery demonstrations by celebrity chef Galton Blackiston, to business seminars, wine tastings and art exhibitions.

The Harbour Room, which is open seven nights a week, is also available to hire for weddings and parties, is used by local groups including a folk club, a rock and roll club and a playgroup, and hosts a weekly gym, a mobile library, quiz nights and bingo sessions.

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It even has its own community car donated by a local businessman and hired out to Blakeney residents at a cost of 30p a mile.

Harbour Room manager and events promoter Gary Mears, who is a member of resident band the Old Wild Rovers, said that as well as gaining an enviable reputation among established bands, the venue aimed to support upcoming talent.

More events are planned for the future, including first aid, food hygiene and business courses and adult literacy and numeracy classes.

'We are also planning to team up with Holt Youth Project to set up a scheme for young people and to work with Blakeney clubs and groups to develop community projects,' Mr Mears said.

Local accountant Diana Scargill, who is a committee member, said that the main aim of the club was to provide opportunities for Blakeney residents.

'We have a thriving community with a lot of very active people, so what we want to do is to give people things to do and be a focus for community life,' she added.

Newly-formed north Norfolk band Super Action Heroes will be appearing at Blakeney Harbour Room at 8.30pm on February 5. Tickets, priced �4, are available on the door. For a full programme of events, visit www.blakeneyharbourroom.co.uk or phone 01263 741576.

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