Exhibition looks back on near miss

A MUCH-LOVED community facility took centre stage as residents imagined what might have been had it been knocked down more than 40 years ago.

As part of national Civic Day – an event organised by charity Civic Voice and celebrating the best of where people live – the Sudbury Society held an exhibition at the town’s library on Market Hill on Saturday.

Members of the society marvelled at the £350,000 restoration of the building, which was completed late last year, and gave visitors a glimpse of what could have become of the former Corn Exchange had it been demolished – as was proposed – in the 1960s.

Society chairman Peter Thorogood said: “In the early 1960s, there was planning permission for the building to be knocked down in what would have been one of the greatest acts of vandalism ever.

“Luckily, it was saved and transformed into the library and it was this act that led to the forming of the Sudbury Society and its aim to help stop the desecration of Sudbury’s historic buildings.”

During the exhibition, called Sudbury’s Phoenix: From Corn Exchange to Library, which also saw certificates handed out by Lord Phillips of Sudbury to those who helped refurbish the library, a leaflet showing a supermarket on the site was available to visitors.

Society member Anne Grimshaw, who produced the mock-up image, said: “I just did it for a bit of fun on Photoshop.

“The supermarket is so out of keeping and is an example to what could have been.

“Using the library as Sudbury’s contribution to Civic Day is very apt after its recent makeover and it looks fantastic.”

Society vice-chairman Stephen Thorpe, who was responsible for organising the day, said the exhibition came at an important time given concerns over libraries under threat by Suffolk County Council cuts.

“The library is worth celebrating as it is crucial to the community and is in a fine building, with 127 years of history,” he said.

Mr Thorpe added that he was in the process of setting up a Friends of Sudbury Library to promote greater use of the facility and maintain it as a building that is free to use.

The exhibition will be on show at the library until July 10.