Carlisle pub becomes activity centre for youngsters
Last updated at 11:17, Saturday, 25 August 2012
A labour of love is transforming a former Carlisle pub into a children’s activity centre.
The idea has been brimming in Emmy Sealey’s mind for decades after she fell in love with the Reggio Emilia educational approach adopted in Italy.
Now Emmy and her husband Roger, from Stanwix, are halfway through the process of transforming the old Bay pub and restaurant, in Denton Holme, into her dream.
It was Roger, 64, who bought the building as a surprise for his wife.
As a retired architect he had always loved the building, and watched with interest when the pub closed down two years ago.
“I was on the internet in December,” Roger explained. “And I wondered what had happened to the building. I Googled it and up came a Manchester company which specialises in the sale of commercial buildings.”
After making inquiries with the city council about the possibilities of altering its licence from that of a pub to an activity centre, he pressed ahead with the sale.
The couple hope to be open by mid-October – when they have their first booking for the training room – but insist it has been a lot of hard work.
Emmy, 63, said: “It had been vandalised and almost every single piece of copper piping had been stolen.”
The interior has had to be stripped right back and, while the couple have endeavoured to employ local labourers where needed, a lot of the work has been done themselves.
“It’s been long days,” Roger admitted. “We are putting an extension on Ravenscar Kindergarten [which Emmy owns and runs] as well, so if we are not here, we are there.
“It is 8am til 8pm, seven-days a week.”
Their son Damian, daughter Natalie and even granddaughter Dion, nine, have all been helping out with stripping out the furniture and fittings and painting walls, ceilings and window frames.
It will be called Holme Head House, a community atelier, and is based upon the Reggio schools.
Emmy explained that children will have the opportunity to make, create and explore their imaginations using arts and crafts, without rigid guidelines about what they should be producing, just like the Reggio ethos.
The top floor is divided into four open plan rooms, which will be home to tables for painting, sewing, knitting and general creating.
Downstairs there will be a pottery room, complete with kiln and potters wheel, and a large training room which will be hired out for dance classes and meetings.
Perhaps the most exciting room will be the one dedicated to forestry.
Roger is also a school forest trainer, and so this room will give youngsters an introduction to the outdoors.
The Sealeys hope to have the top of a tree inside the room for children to clamber in, and there will be a tent set up and pretend camp fire.
Emmy said: “The area around here is so beautiful, with so many safe walks, we want the children to be able to explore nature, to learn and Roger will even teach them to cook outdoors.”
The former pub’s kitchen, in the basement, will also have its uses, as children will be taught how to prepare their own lunches, before enjoying them together – and cleaning up afterwards.
Exact plans on how the centre will work are still unclear, but it is hoped the privately-run facility will be used by schools, nurseries and even disability groups to really explore the arts.
Roger said: “We know it is not a money-spinner; we’ll be happy just to cover our costs.”
Emmy said: “Instead of being sat in front of a computer or television, we want children to be able to create and explore and do things they may not have the opportunity to do at school or home.”
First published at 10:51, Saturday, 25 August 2012
Published by http://www.newsandstar.co.uk