Right Royal knees-up planned for launch of new community hub

The former Southwold Hospital will become a community hub

The former Southwold Hospital will become a community hub - Credit: Nick Butcher

The grand opening of a former Suffolk hospital as a community hub will be a regal occasion with a special party to coincide with the platinum jubilee. 

A host of activities have been arranged to launch the redeveloped Southwold and District Hospital, which has been transformed into a series of affordable homes, including nine flats, a café and a home for the town’s library. 

There will be food, drink, children’s crafts and music down through the generations at the event on Sunday, June 5, which is being held to coincide with the 70th anniversary of the Queen’s accession to the throne. 

By coincidence, the hospital in Field Stile Road was originally built to coincide with the diamond jubilee of Queen Victoria and was opened to great fanfare in 1903. 

Developers, community group SouthGen have created the hub with donations, including £75,000 from the Big Issue Invest, the investment arm of The Big Issue, which supports social enterprises.

Jessica Jeans, chairwoman of SouthGen, pours a special Adnams beer over the rebuilt hospital

Jessica Jeans, chair of SouthGen, pours a special Adnams beer over the rebuilt hospital - Credit: Sarah Lucy Brown

SouthGen’s 477 members also each own a share in the community hub after fundraising around £500,000 for the scheme, with the project also attracting around £1 million in grants. 

Jessica Jeans, chair of SouthGen, said: “SouthGen and Suffolk Libraries felt that there could be no better time than Queen Elizabeth’s Platinum Jubilee to usher in a new community life for this old community building.” 

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Nicola Hordern, head chef for the hub’s community café, The Canteen, will be providing a buffet style jubilee-themed menu.  

This will be her first opportunity to showcase her food vision for The Canteen – a zero waste policy and menus that aim to help keep prices within reach of local people.   

Charlotte Clark, executive library manager for Southwold Library, said: “The new library is amazing.  The children can’t believe the new kids area and particularly love the goldfish beanbags and the beach hut reading nook.   

“We’ve had so many new customers we had to order more library cards. With the help of the Friends of Southwold Library we are fitting the library out with new tables, chairs and all manner of new fixtures and fittings.”