New home for Rogate archive

Mairi Rennie, organizer of the new heritage centre in Rogate. C121068-2
Mairi Rennie, organizer of the new heritage centre in Rogate. C121068-2

AFTER years in a cold dusty loft valuable documents tracing the history of Rogate and its villagers is to be given a permanent home.

The new Rogate Heritage Centre, which is the brainchild of villager Mairi Rennie, is taking shape in the garage behind the village hall and she hopes it will be open to the public in November.

“It has been a wonderful joint venture with many people working together to provide an heritage centre that promises to be a great asset to our village,” she told the Observer.

For over 20 years the village archives have been stored in the loft of St Bartholomew’s Church.

“No one could see them there,” said Mairi, “and they were vulnerable to temperature changes, dust and vermin.”

Much of the material has been catalogued and collected by village historian Dick Garne, now over 90 years old, who has been helped over the years by others in Rogate interested in its history.

“It really is a fascinating collection and Rogate owes Dick a great vote of thanks,” said Mairi.

She and Stephen Allberry, also a local historian, started working together to set up the new heritage centre when the church asked for the much needed storage space to be available again for its own use.

The Rogate Society now owns the archives and the village hall committee was keen to give them a home at the hall.

Changes at the hall have allowed the committee to re-think the use of the garage behind the building.

“Brian Allison, the chairman, was extremely supportive, and Chris Bleasdale, the treasurer negotiated with the village hall trustees,” said Mairi.

But before they could take the project forward they needed funding.

Star village fund raiser Ann Arnold, who runs the village shop and has already successfully masterminded funding bids for the new play ground and the church, came up trumps with £30,000 funding from the Diana Steinberg Trust.