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The Rockfield Centre has notched up another milestone getting closer to its razzmatazz opening next year.
Builders revamping the centre in the heart of Oban, have just handed the keys back to the community.
With just a few more finishing touches to go, kitting out the former primary school, the £2.8million project is looking good, with plans for a soft opening in the spring and a ‘full on, razzmatazz’ opening later in the year.
A new main entrance at the side of the building, marks a new era for the building coming back to life as a community hub.
Inside it is big and bright – more than 70 windows were taken out and restored to let in lots of light.
On the ground floor, the footprint of what was once three classrooms at the front of the building have been left marked out with shaded floor covering – making for just one of the many nods to the former school’s past.
The main staircase, lit by a hanging multi-coloured light installation, has retained the original steps, leading to the first floor. A lift has also been installed.
Plans are in the pipeline for a guided tour video that will be put online for people to take a peek inside themselves.
Multi-function spaces are ready and waiting for gatherings and events – some gigs and exhibitions for 2021 are already in the diary, says Eleanor MacKinnon, The Rockfield Centre’s (TRC’s) transition operational manager.
‘We’ve got the blank canvas now from the builders, ready for us to take it to the next exciting stage,’ she added.
Attention to detail has been mind-blowing – stripped back to the stone of the original 1877 building, an area of wall has been left exposed behind glass as a reminder of the past.
Stone to carry out repairs on the building was matched after samples were sent off to be analysed and find the ‘nearest to it’ material. A specialist company was brought in to re-create saved decorative cornicing missing from the once headteacher’s office that will now be used by centre staff.
North Argyll Carer’s Centre is moving into two spaces on the first floor, there is more office space, a messy space for making and creating, plenty of room for exhibitions, and a huge performance space downstairs, with back access to bring in sound systems and equipment – original fresh air vents have also been retained – handy now for Covid times.
Capital project manager Stuart Pinkerton said: ‘While we couldn’t retain everything from the old building, we wanted to retain as much as we could so people could still remember it from its schooldays and at the same time benefit for the building being brought up to modern day standards.’
Eleanor added: ‘The character of the place is amazing. It’s a big building but you feel it’s giving you a big hug.’
And chairman of Oban Communities Trust Gordon McNab said: ‘Our being handed back the keys to the Rockfield Centre after its refurbishment is another fantastic milestone. A special thank you to all the teams involved in getting us to this point. Now another chapter begins, namely the fitting out. We are preparing a link so everyone can tour and see inside safely. Thank you to everyone who shares the vision and who works tirelessly to deliver this life changing project.’
Fundraising has been remarkable and achieved in just over five years – arts and culture, history and heritage, enterprise and education, and community well-being will be the centre’s focus.
Plans are now heading to the next phase of furnishing the inside, with hopes to move in the first tenants in January, with the team optimistic, despite the uncertainty of Covid, of a limited opening.
During the pandemic staff and volunteers have continued to work, moving clubs and activities online supporting the community and keeping the project on track.
To keep up to date with the project, visit www.therockfieldcentre.org.uk and its Facebook page.