Hundreds of visitors made the most of the opportunity to see inside St Annes’ historic Palace building for the first time in decades.
The Palace, a former theatre and cinema which has been the home of the Lytham St Annes Freemasons since the late 1950s, is being promoted as a community hub, with the Masons inviting groups to make the most of the extensive facilities. More than 40 such groups were involved in Saturday’s open day.
The Friends of St Annes Palace has been set up to lead the project and officials have been delighted at the response.
Guests at the open day included singer Anne Nolan and David Winder, the Masonic assistant provincial grand master of West Lancashire.
Friends chairman John Burgess said: “It was a wonderful day and thanks to everyone who came along.
“Most people were genuinely quite taken aback at the extent and quality of the facilities available and there was a huge interest both during the open day and since in hiring the facilities for various events.
“It was a joy to have people enter the lodge room where they had first met and danced together more than 60 years ago and the main hall where they had sat in the stalls where the market area is now as they ‘couldn’t afford the circle seats’ when the building was a cinema.
“Great credit goes to Bev Sykes and Linda Beddows of the Friends who used all their community contacts to attract people to participate in the event.
“When the exhibitors ask are you going to do this again next year you know that things went well.
“The Friends of St Annes Palace and the Community Hub at St Annes Palace is here to stay and to be a major contributor to community life in the Fylde.”
The Friends, who have applied for charitable status, aim to open a Community Information Centre in the St Annes Market, which is part of the Palace buildings, in the near future.
John added: “The intention is for it to be a place where community groups can exhibit their flyers and pamphlets and where they might find information on local matters.”
Details of how to hire rooms within the Palace building for meetings and events are available from 07899 604657.
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