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River Stour Trust visitor and education centre in Great Cornard restored to former glory after £300,000 refurbishment following devastating fire





A visitor and education centre in Great Cornard, which was destroyed in a fierce blaze, has been restored to its former glory, following a major refurbishment.

The facility, owned by the River Stour Trust, was left a blackened ruin after a fire, caused by an electrical fault, damaged the charity’s offices, archives and community space at its site in Dove House Meadow back in 2018.

The centre has undergone a £300,000 refurbishment, with improved disabled access, alongside further on-site parking facilities, included in the design.

The River Stour Trust visitor centre has undergone a major refurbishment following a fire at the facility in 2018...Pictured: Catherine Burrows ....PICTURE: Mecha Morton.. (42268515)
The River Stour Trust visitor centre has undergone a major refurbishment following a fire at the facility in 2018...Pictured: Catherine Burrows ....PICTURE: Mecha Morton.. (42268515)

Expressing the team’s relief to see the facility reinstated, a spokesman said: “We are delighted that negotiations 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.

“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.”

A series of boxes have been installed around the site to accommodate a colony of pipistrelle bats, which were discovered roosting within the building’s structure.

The River Stour Trust visitor centre has undergone a major refurbishment following a fire at the facility in 2018...Pictured: Catherine Burrows ....PICTURE: Mecha Morton.. (42268514)
The River Stour Trust visitor centre has undergone a major refurbishment following a fire at the facility in 2018...Pictured: Catherine Burrows ....PICTURE: Mecha Morton.. (42268514)

While the charity has been forced to temporarily suspend all its boating river tours from the Granary in Quay Lane due to the coronavirus pandemic, the trust’s popular Sudbury to the Sea event managed to go ahead at the weekend, albeit at a reduced capacity, with 100 crafts taking part.

Praising the event, River Stour Trust manager Catherine Burrows said: “It was a great success, which is a real boost, as we have been forced to cease all our other activities.”