REFURBISHMENT work at St Ives Corn Exchange finally started last week, marking the beginning of a new life for the Market Square building. The initial demolition work at the rear of the building and removal of rubble was a significant contribution in ki

REFURBISHMENT work at St Ives Corn Exchange finally started last week, marking the beginning of a new life for the Market Square building.

The initial demolition work at the rear of the building and removal of rubble was a 'significant' contribution in kind from St Ives demolition and haulage contractor Mick George, said town clerk Alison Melnyczuk.

Work by Huntingdon-based contractor Orient Rose is expected to take five months to complete and, when the building is reopened, it will be as a community hall and a new entertainment venue.

However, before the Corn Exchange can once again play a central role in the town, there is a long way to go to ensure it has all of the facilities people expect.

Members of the fundraising group ACE were out in force at the town's Christmas lights event on Saturday, November 28 to kick-start the fundraising efforts.

The group, which is also known at the Friends of St Ives Corn Exchange, is raising money to help cover the costs of kitting out the building - the kitchen, staging, lights, displays and a sound system.

The building will be able to host theatre productions, comedy nights, conferences and parties as well as a wide variety of community events.

While a large chunk of the £950,000 for the restoration project is in place, ACE needs to raise a further £100,000 to fully furnish and equip the building.

St Ives former Mayor Ian Dobson and current Mayor Brian Luter presented the group with a cheque for £1,100 at the Christmas lights switch on.

ACE was also gathering support for its friends scheme which allows businesses and individuals to support the campaign by joining up, either giving money or time to the project.

Membership of the friends starts at £10.

A number of other fundraising activities is also planned, and the next is taking place on Monday (December 14) at the Dolphin Hotel in the town.

The newly-formed choir, St Ives Community Choir, which is led by musical director Rowan Marshall, will be holding a musical evening in aid of the Corn Exchange starting at 7.30pm.

Tickets cost £5 from Just Sharing, The Free Church, St Ives, or by calling 01480 300726.

INFORMATION: You can find out more about becoming a friend of St Ives Corn Exchange by visiting www.thecornexchange.org.uk