Large Vision - Small beginnings
Circa 1953, Three Newport Pagnell men: Col. Leslie Payne,
Peter Adams and Ron Groom, realising that the town had
little to offer its senior citizens, decided to raise money
for extra comforts and benefits. From their initials they
formed P.A.G. Productions and ran comedy/crazy events to
both entertain the townsfolk and to collect donations,
being money thrown by the crowds into blankets held by
members of the Territorial Army of which Leslie Payne was
From these small beginnings, providing such items as deckchairs,
games etc. the idea of a permanent club was formed, and the
Newport Pagnell Urban District Council of which Col. Payne
had become a (vocal) member, putting the idea forward, found
a vacant plot on which to build in Ousebank Street overlooking
the public gardens. £3,200 was the sum needed. Everyone set to work with
a will. The community spirit prevailed, and every way to
raise money was used… for instance bricks were sold
at a shilling each. (5p). Eventually the total raised came
to £2,050… then came a sum of £1,000 from
the King George VI memorial Fund, leaving a balance of £150… so
a mammoth draw was promptly held, and the final money came
club was accordingly built, with volunteers helping the
builders and was officially
opened on October 31st 1959
by Mrs Lovelock Jones, Chair of the Bucks Old People’s
Welfare Committee and County Health Organiser. The first
Chairman was Bert Ellis.
club was open from 2 – 5pm on weekdays, and members
would drop in for a chat, a game, to read or listen to the
radiogram! Thursday was club day with organised programmes,
still operating (on Tuesdays now). The members had their
own collecting boxes e.g. Sick Fund, Flowers to Invalids
and Building Account Expenses.
club flourishes – more space required
Slowly the furniture and effects built up, records, books
etc. The growing membership threatened to outgrow the building,
when like an answer to a prayer, Arthur Mitchell, a local
baker, left a legacy in his will, which enabled an extension
to be built. Twelve feet more at the west end, giving 320
square feet and additions to the east end, providing dressing
room and storage for the stage.
Needless to say over the years the club has grown and flourished.
are two specially equipped vehicles for transport of less
mobile members, driven by volunteers. The purchase of the
smaller bus was made possible by a legacy from a grateful
member of the Day Centre. Many activities are arranged, summer
outings, visits to the theatre, garden centres etc.
In the 1950’s the building was known as the Brooklands
Club, it was well known by the majority of older people in
the town of Newport Pagnell as a place to meet and socialise.
Today (2011) it’s a fine two storey building on the
same site in Ousebank Street and has been renamed ‘The
Brooklands Centre’. It is being opened up to be used
by the wider community, with the emphasis still on serving
the older people in Newport Pagnell. How did this all happen?
The BIG Project
The old building had played a wonderful role in giving the
older generation a special place to meet and had been built
especially for them. However, after many years it, like
its users, was showing its age, with a leaking roof, central
heating on its last legs, subsidence and general wear and
The Trustees also wanted to provide more space to offer
greater choice to the younger retired as well as those in
the town who were living on into their nineties. You
may wonder why the Trustees decided to embark on such a
which would cost around one million pounds – money
they didn’t have! After
much discussion about going ahead with the project – some
Trustees felt the building should just be repaired and updated,
but in the end agreement was reached –they would go
for a new building!
Wanted Project Officer
A Project officer was required to write a business plan,
to manage the new build and apply for the all-important
funding. Monies were made available to enable the appointment
of a part time Project officer (Mr Christopher Flower (Fred)
who was just the right person. A steering group of Trustees, Councillors and funding experts
was formed who met regularly with Fred and kept the larger
committee informed of progress.
The day the demolition people moved in and seeing the old
building razed to the ground was a heart-stopping sight.
What if the money could not be found to build a new Centre?
The old one was no more!
Service as normal
A big effort was made to continue providing services whilst
building work went on. The
twice-weekly Day Centre for the frailer elderly who come
for the day
with transport provided and have a hot midday
meal, settled in well at the British Legion building down
the road. Both ‘members’ – those who came
to spend the day and volunteer helpers managed to cope under
the care of Sandra, the Day Centre Manager. The Saturday
Lunch Club that caters for approximately sixty people carried
at the Baptist Church while the United
Reformed Church hall was the venue for the Exercise and Activity
Tuesday Social Club had several moves during this time but
ended up happily enough at the Portfields Community Centre.
Leaders/organisers of the groups felt a bit like snails,
carrying belongings if not homes around as they trekked to
sessions with the items needed for each activity.
Re Building Commences
Building of the new Centre which started in August of 2009
went well until Nov. /Dec. when the huge crane which had
been brought in, had to stand idle for a while due to strong
winds and then snow in January 2010 made further difficulties.
It was exciting to watch progress as the building went up
but the site was cordoned off and we could only look through
the wire fence and walk around to the rear of the new build
in Ousebank Gardens to try and get an idea of how the building
was progressing until the day we could don hard hats and
yellow jackets to be shown around the building! There was
still, a long way to go but you could carefully climb the
concrete stairs and look out from the upper floor and see
the outline of the rooms.
a great day when a bottle of champagne was cracked open
for a small ‘‘Topping Out’’ Ceremony. The ‘‘Buy a Brick’’ Appeal was re
launched so that local people could donate (£5 a brick)
if they wished to. The Town Council and Cambourne Travel
kept buckets in their premises in the High Street for donations
to be left and many people contributed generously. (For which
we were very grateful.) The then Mayor of Milton Keynes,
Euan Henderson launched the Appeal and the local press took
photos with an article to make people aware of the project.
In all the public gave around £16,000 towards the new
The Centre was completed a couple of months late but the
first groups moved into the new premises in July 2010 and
were delighted with the spacious, airy building with its
large upstairs patio and its extra rooms.
The Trustees had decided not to rush with the planned
Official Opening Day until they had moved back the user
felt at home in the new building. September
4th 2010 was the chosen date for the Official Opening Ceremony
in the morning and ‘‘open house’’ in
the afternoon so the public had an opportunity to come and
have a look around.
day dawned bright and warm and photographs were taken of
they arrived. Canapés and champagne were
served. Irene and Euan Henderson having shown great interest
and support in the project were invited to perform the opening
ceremony. The afternoon saw many local people coming to look around.
The lovely weather meant that visitors could sit out on the
upstairs terrace, being served tea and cakes while enjoying
As the centre continues with all the activities that were
run in the old building now there are rooms upstairs which
can be used independently of the ground floor. The first floor has been booked by the Leg Club, Receptions,
Meetings, Art Groups, Wedding Preparation classes, National
Childbirth Trust and a Yoga Class. The
ground floor is/has been used for a Brownie pack, the Mother’s Union, parties and a busy Carer’s Group.
These are all extra to the regular use by the varied groups
the Centre is responsible for. A new group is the Pop in
on a Tuesday morning where the over 50’s are welcome
to drop in for coffee and snacks, read the papers, take part
in a craft activity, chat to friends or join the Tai Chi