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Work begins to restore River Stour Trust facility in Great Cornard destroyed by fierce blaze




A visitor and education centre in Great Cornard, which was destroyed in a fierce blaze, is being returned to its former glory.

The facility, owned by the River Stour Trust, was left a blackened ruin after a fire gutted large parts of the site in 2018.

An electrical fault was established as the cause of the blaze, which resulted in extensive damage to the charity’s offices, archive and community space at its site in Dove House Meadow.

The River Stour Trust's Visitor Education Centre suffered severe damage following a blaze. Pictured: Trust secretary Keith Grinsted. PICTURE: Mecha Morton. (28867403)
The River Stour Trust's Visitor Education Centre suffered severe damage following a blaze. Pictured: Trust secretary Keith Grinsted. PICTURE: Mecha Morton. (28867403)

The blaze took place just days before one of the charity’s biggest events – Sudbury to the Sea – was set to be staged, which managed to go ahead, despite the major setback.

Work to reinstate the facility to its original design has begun, with additional features set to include improved disabled access alongside further on-site visitor parking.

A spokesman for the River Stour Trust said the team was relieved to see the facility reinstated in the community.

“We are delighted that negotiations have finally allowed us to proceed with the reconstruction of our visitor and education centre to a standard that will continue to provide a valuable community asset as well as the ability to reinstate our staff and corporate offices,” he said, adding that the strength of the team’s partnership had been key to ensuring the charity fulfilled its commitments.

“The loss of the centre has been challenging for our operations and our ability to deliver our social responsibility, but, thanks to the efforts of all of our staff and volunteers, we have continued to serve the aims and objectives of the trust throughout.”

Secure boxes have been placed around the centre to accommodate a colony of pipistrelle bats, which were discovered roosting within the structure of the building.

Contractor J W Hughes Ltd has been appointed to carry out work on the site, with the project expected to be completed in June.


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