CHEADLE Discovery Centre closed its doors for what could be the final time last week.
The shock move was announced on Facebook on Thursday, April 26.
Cheadle Discovery Group – which runs the discovery and volunteer centre – was considering alternative accommodation at Lulworth House as the Times and Echo went to press on Tuesday.
The group – which has been at Lulworth House rent-free since 2012 – have been offered the use of the former police cells and custody suite, but a decision on whether to accept the offer is not expected until next week.
The centre currently opens from 10am to 4pm on Saturdays and Thursdays. Shortly after doors closed on Thursday last week, a Facebook message by a discovery group spokesman was posted online.
It said: “It is with regret, due to unforeseen circumstances we must announce the closure of the Discovery Centre.
“It is hoped this will be temporary.”
Lulworth House was Cheadle’s police station for almost a century, from 1915 to 2010. A year-long heritage project to mark the bicentenary of Pugin’s Gem in 2012 saw a temporary visitor centre established at Lulworth House, which later evolved into the Cheadle Discovery and Visitor Centre.
Owner of the building, Stewart Bagnall asked the volunteer group to consider moving into the former police cells and custody suite after two businesses expressed a joint interest in the ground floor units currently occupied by the centre.
He said: “When somebody comes along and is potentially going to pay the rent for a space which you’re letting someone else have for free, you have to take it, but I haven’t just turned round to them and said it’s all over and finished.
“I’ve got alternative accommodation for them that they can continue to have rent free. My business partner says they’d have to pay rent, so we have decided as a family to pay that portion of rent to him on behalf of the Discovery Group so they can keep the centre running.
“When I spoke to the group a couple of weeks ago they said they were already considering moving and were looking for premises.
“I haven’t asked them to move out, I’ve asked them to relocate within the building.
“They’d have exclusive rights to that area which is bigger than they area they had before.
“I do want it to be open more than a couple of days a week as I think people will want to visit more at weekends.
“I want to see people going and getting pleasure from it. I like to see people smile when they come out.
“The offer is without strings – all I want is to see it open more often.”
Now, volunteers are considering an offer of the former police cells and custody suite within Lulworth House, which was the town’s police station from 1915 until it was sold in 2010.
Chairman of Cheadle Discovery Group, Alan Wigley, said: “We’re not disbanding as a group, we’re staying together, it’s just a matter of looking round to see if there’s somewhere else we can use.
“It’s early days to say whether we can find somewhere else, but the group is still there and still active.
“We’ve had a lot of support in the past for the different displays and exhibitions we’ve done.
“There’s really nothing we can say at the moment. We’re hoping it will be a temporary closure.
“We were there as a gift really from the goodness of the heart of Stewart Bagnall and we always knew if someone came along who wanted to rent out the ground floor we might have to look for an alternative place – it’s a no brainer.”
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