WORK HAS started on building the long-awaited £860,000 Cullingworth Village Hall.

Louie Sykes and Julie Walmsley picked up shovels to ‘break ground’ recently at the site on Lodge Street.

Their ceremonial effort triggered construction of the foundations for a replacement to the ageing, overcrowded Village Hall in Station Road.

Louis, nine, and Julie won the Ground Breaking Raffle for the honour to dig deep, and their names will go on a brass plaque on the new building.

They were joined at the ceremony by villagers, members of the Cullingworth Village Hall Renewal and Management committees, and Steve Brundle, the site manager from Bermar Building Ltd, who are carrying out the construction work.

Bradford-based Bermar Building Ltd won the tender to build the new community facility, and hope to complete construction in December. The hall should be open to the within three months of that, once it has been fitted out.

The new community building will be substantially bigger than the current village hall to meet the needs of an expanding village.

It will contain a large hall with an adjoining small hall and catering kitchen, a permanent café in the foyer, and a secure space to be used solely for Cullingworth Preschool.

The hall is the brainchild of Cullingworth Village Hall Renewal Committee, who five years ago set about the huge task of raising enough money.

Committee chairman Jill Logan said: “There were many times we thought we’d never get to this stage. We’re a strong team and have been fortunate to receive good advice, lots of local support and a great firm of architects in Langtry-Langton.”

The committee have raised £860,000 to fund construction on land at Lodge Street leased from Bradford Council.

Funding sources include £244,000 from the Big Lottery Fund through Power to Change: Business in Community Hands, and £411,000 of section 106 community funding from the David Wilson housing development at Manywells in Cullingworth.

There have also been donations from Cullingworth Preschool, Garfield Weston Foundation, Bernard Sunley Foundation, and £80,000 from Village Hall reserves which includes £32,000 from local fundraising and donations.

The Renewal committee issued a thank-you to villagers and everyone else who have supported the fundraising and planning for the new Village Hall.

A spokesman said: “You have helped us to achieve in what seemed the impossible task five years ago.

“Since then we have secured the land for this new community facility, raised a staggering £860,000 to fund it, and with the input and expertise of a lot of people we designed what we hope will be a fantastic building.”