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Glastonbury's former Morlands factory back in community use

By Central Somerset Gazette  |  Posted: January 31, 2013

  • From the glory days...

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For 25 years, the site of the former Morlands factory was a disfiguring scar on the face of Glastonbury.

But on Saturday a huge party will be held to welcome part of the site back into community use.

It has taken a willing group of volunteers less than three years to roll back the damage caused by decades of decay.

In 2011, after £19 million of tax-payer’s cash had been spent on the undeveloped site, the agency rapidly washed it’s hands of the former factory, announced that funding had run out and walked away, leaving an industrial wasteland and some very expensive traffic lights.

In March that year, after 29 years, three different owners, dozens of planning applications, a threat of demolition, a sit-in protest, hundreds of hours of talking and a hastily raised £40,000, the Red Brick Buildings were sold back to the community for one pound.

Meanwhile the rest of the site was sold to property developers.

Almost immediately, work got under way on the Red Brick Buildings to convert them from an empty shell into a hub of business and community use.

They raised money to fund the project by collecting scrap metal and selling shares in the building.

The majority of the work was carried out by volunteers and local tradesmen, and buildings which were once doomed to demolition are now home to a community café, workshop and studios as well as teaching and training space used by Bridgwater College.

The Mayor of Glastonbury, Ian Tucker said: “The Morlands site has been something in a thorn in the side of this town for years.

“But thirty years ago, it was a symbol of industry and community in Glastonbury.

“It’s wonderful that it is once again a hive of industry and community.

“And we’re lucky – a huge part of the site is back in the hands of the community, who will make sure that it continues to bring in good things for the town.”

The party will mark a new beginning for what was once a blot on the landscape. This week also sees the opening of the new £5 million Premier Inn and Brewer’s Fayre opened their doors for business, complementing the multiple business units breathing new life into central Somerset’s industrial heart and heritage.

For more information about Saturday’s launch party, see our What’s On section.

Your views on the Morlands saga please to editor@midsomnews.co.uk or Central Somerset Gazette, Southover, Wells, Somerset BA5 1UH.

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