10 Years of Winchester Discovery Centre: A Celebration

The final weekend of November saw the celebration of Winchester Discovery Centre‘s 10th anniversary, a weekend bursting with activity and an opportunity to reflect on the 10 years since Winchester Library was refurbished and reopened to huge success.

On Tuesday 27th November 2007, Winchester Discovery Centre staff opened their doors for the first time. Five million visitors, three million book loans and thousands of events, workshops and exhibitions later, the Centre is a library reinvented and so much more besides. The staff involved in the planning, renovating, opening and running of the building ever since were well deserving in their day of congratulations.

The weekend began with a variety open day, showcasing some of the best attractions that the building offers. From book groups to dance troupes, the Winchester Discovery Centre has been at the heart of the local community, and the staff were proud to be part of a day packed with fun and fascination.

As with all Hampshire Libraries, the Discovery Centre loves to support community projects, and we welcomed some of the friends and organisations that we have worked with over the years including (for details of these partners see the end of this blog):

Hampshire Cultural Trust showcasing the dozens of exhibitions displayed within the Discovery Centre’s two galleries during those 10 years as part of an on-going partnership.
Winchester Science Centre providing interaction with with some crazy experiments!
– Artist Alice Kettle, with some fascinating talks and workshops.
– Popular children’s author Richard Hardie reading stories in the children’s library.
Art Talk, running FREE family craft workshops
– World record challenging roboticist James Bruton, who brought his electric Lego skateboard!
– The Winchester Fusion Choir singing us a happy birthday and performing a few favourites!
– Local partners such as Winchester Churches Nightshelter, Winchester Action on Climate Change and Pillars of Parenting and the Hampshire Library Home Library Service with information stands to raise awareness of their important work. The Home Library Service volunteers have been working with the library staff, supplying reads to immobile residents to support their love of reading.
King Alfred Buses with a vintage bus parked on our terrace!
– The Speaking Volumes and Crime Reading library book groups.
– The Winchester Chamber Orchestra super musicians as part of a string quartet.
– A raffle, entered by loaning 2 items from the library, with brilliant prizes from local business and partners.

Moving on to Monday 27th November, individuals and organisations instrumental in the Centre’s development were welcomed back for an official ceremony, acknowledging the huge success of the building since it’s refurbishment and the role of the building moving forward.

Above, left to right: Isabella Creagh, Competition Winner; WDC10 birthday cake; artist Alice Kettle with Carmel Gillies; Cllr Roy Perry

The arriving delegates in the Performance Hall were greeted by the Friends of Winchester Chamber Orchestra’s beautiful classical melodies, while a range of partners and events organisers were on display around the room. The guests were then offered guided tours of the building, providing a sense of all the diverse features the Centre offers.

Back in the hall, our Head of Libraries and Registration Services Sara Teers opened the ceremony, introducing The County Council’s Executive Member for Culture, Recreation and Countryside, Councillor Andrew Gibson. His speech congratulated the building on all its successes:

“Winchester Discovery Centre was one of our first libraries where we blended strong library traditions with modern facilities such as a performance hall, art gallery and café to transform it into a real community hub.
“A key part of this success is down to the award-winning redesign by our in-house Property Services team, establishing the Discovery Centre as a versatile space and flagship venue. The popularity of the Discovery Centre is far greater than we’d dared to imagine – welcoming visitors of all ages for reading, learning, family activities and cultural events.
“My thanks go to all of our visitors, dedicated staff and volunteers who have contributed to its success – here’s to the next ten years.”

The Leader of the Council, Cllr Roy Perry, then presented a gift made by local artist Alice Kettle to Carmel Gillies, wife of the late architect Alec Gillies who was a prominent designer of the building. Cllr Gibson then returmed to present the winner of the Discovery Centre’s Christmas Card Competition, Isabella Creagh (pictured above & below on the far left). The WDC10 cake was then cut by Isabella as the ceremony came to a close.

Above: Dignitaries from left to right: Isabella Creagh, Cllr Andrew Gibson, Carmel Gillies, Alice Kettle, Cllr Roy Perry.

In the ‘Celebration of 10 Years’  stop-motion footage that played behind the podium throughout, it proudly declared the 500,000 people per year that have passed through the Discovery Centre’s doors in every one of those 10 successful years. What a way to welcome some of those people back over the weekend, and acknowledge those that began the Centre’s journey throughout that time. We now anticipate more successes in the next 10 years!

Associated partners and organisations:

Hampshire Cultural Trust
Winchester Science Centre
Winchester Community First
Alice Kettle
Richard Hardie
Art Talk, running FREE family craft workshops
James Bruton
Winchester Fusion Choir
Winchester Churches Nightshelter
Winchester Action on Climate Change
Pillars of Parenting
Home Library Service
King Alfred Buses
Speaking Volumes and Crime Reading library book groups
Winchester Chamber Orchestra

Raffle sponsors:

  • Porterhouse Steakhouse
  • Wilds Sports
  • Sarah Bennett hair products
  • Arcana Hair
  • Koh Thai Winchester
  • The Consortium
  • Brasserie Blanc
  • Theatre Royal Winchester
  • Greens Wine Bar
  • Dim T Winchester


1 thought on “10 Years of Winchester Discovery Centre: A Celebration”

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.