50th Anniversary stories

With photos by Tom Alexander

In celebration of our 50th anniversary, we have been asking you to share with us any special moments or memories you have of the community centre. We asked the very talented Tom Alexander to take some portraits of individuals that help make the centre the wonderful place that it is.

One of the images is of Dennison Joseph (pictured) who runs Tai Chi classes at the community centre and has been coming here since the 1970s. You can take a look at the portraits and stories, as they are now on display in room 7.

For now you can have a read of some of these stories here:

Murilo Leite D’Imperio, Owner of Neck of the Woods Cafe

“For me, St Werburghs Community Centre has kind of changed my life. It helped me start my own business, which has now been running coming up for 5 years. My partner’s office is also based here so it’s kind of a really huge part of my life and without it I don’t know what I would be doing.

I really love when there is a large-scale event at the Centre. Things like the Cabaret Fundraiser Evening, Christmas Market and other ones like Buddah fields. It really changes how the building feels and these are the times that really stick out to me in my memory.”

Renny Williams, Centre Caretaker

“I first came here in 1974. Over the years, there were lots of people using the centre. Most Saturday nights there would be a party here. Lots of black people having weddings or parties here. I had my wedding reception here in August 1975.It was one massive wedding, lots of people.

Every Wednesday and Sunday people would come for the Dominoes Club, practising plus with some beer and ting. People would come down from Birmingham and Manchester to play.

At one point this place was so run down, they were thinking about knocking it all down. But they modernised it instead like.

Back then you could get a house here (in St Werburghs) for £500. I got mine for that. You could get a gallon, not a litre, a gallon of petrol for 25p.”

Kazuko Isoyama, Community Member

“I’ve been coming to the Centre for over ten years. We used to come here for our Buddhist Group meetings, to study for our and exams and meet up. These were here for over 15 years I think. Over the years the place has changed and I like the new seating especially the outdoor area. I now regularly go to Tai Chi on Fridays.”

Dennison Joseph, Tai Chi Leader

“I’ve been attending the centre on and off for 40 to 50 years. Back then, this place was a real hub for the Caribbean community. There was the Dominoes Club but we also used to have a Blues session here. In fact in my mid 20’s I used to rehearse here with my band. There was no place quite like it, it was in the days before the Malcom X Centre was a thing.

Over 10 years ago, Goska (Centre Manager) asked me if I would be interested in running a Tai Chi class for the over 50’s. Some of the people from 10 years ago still come along. Running this class has been a big highlight for me.”

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    Insight into Bristol Wutan – Film with Sarer Scott

    We are lucky enough to have some incredible groups and classes here at the centre. Here you can see the amazing Sarer with Bristol Wutan Tai Chi, Kickboxing & Kung Fu, in collaboration with Sport England and Voscur who helped fund this video.

    Sarer is a leader who firmly believes that all people can make an impact in what they choose to, especially promoting women within this martial art. She has real passion and integrity for her class and students and it was great to find out a bit more of what she gets up to.

    We were lucky enough to capture this in a short film, giving us an insight into how she makes a real impact (and packs a punch).


    If you are interested in booking for one of Sarer’s classes here at the centre, then contact https://www.bristol-wutan.co.uk/

    Are there any activities you would like to try here at the community centre?

    Video credit Tim Crawley


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      Celebrating our 50th Anniversary

      St Werburghs Community Centres 50th Anniversary 

      St Werburghs Community Centre is celebrating its 50th anniversary. This is a brilliant chance to look at the history of the community centre and the people that have helped shape it.


      In 1971 a group of locals, including Roy Hackett, came together to transform the old school building into a community centre. This was a new venture with St Werburghs being one of the first community centres to be created in Bristol. Over the years it has been known with many different names including The Baptist Mills Centre for Community Activities and the Horley Road Centre.


      In 1999 St Werburghs Community Association officially became a charity and a Managing committee was established to manage the centre. Under the direction of Linda Bell a new annexe was built in 2009, giving extra space and fresh energy to the centre.


      The building is home to a range of tenant organisations Khaas, Kingsway International Christian Centre, Amicus Foster Care, Herbalists without Borders, Zedify sustainable transport and Karen Christie Integrative Counselling. Who all utilise our affordable spaces to deliver services to local communities.


      Over the years the charity has developed a range of services and events to support the community. All the projects, events and services that are run here have a clear aim. To promote social inclusion, better mental health and to increase economic and digital inclusion. We also strive to encourage sustainable living and to strengthen community cohesion in Ashley, Easton and Lawrence Hill.


      One of the highlights of the centre has always been the amazing events that have happened here. From Caribbean Fiestas in the 1970s to dressmaking and Junior Bhangra dance groups in the ’80s.


      These days we host Picnic in the Park, an annual event that brings the whole community to Mina Road Park. As well as Festive Friends that reaches out to isolated older people with a meal, gifts and company.


      At the moment there is a great range of services currently run at the centre. With Easy PC helping people with digital support, through one-to-one sessions every Monday. Free computers in the lobby for people to freely access the internet and equipment to use it. Not forgetting the much-loved Raking & Baking cooking & gardening course that teaches people skills as well as bringing them together.


      This anniversary is about celebrating the local community. As it is the people that make this hub the vibrant space it is. Through the rest of the year, we will be compiling stories, hoping to capture your memories of the centre over the years and what you want to see in the future.


      Tell us your moments, share your photos and let’s celebrate the community at the heart of St Werburghs. If you are interested in taking part get in touch, we would love to hear from you.




      Photo credit Carrie Hitchcock

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        Follow at Home Yoga with Gladey Rowan

        Sometimes we all just need to take a moment to look after ourselves.
        We have been so lucky to have a real taste of the wonderful work of YogaGladey . Her class has been running here a the centre for many years and been a refuge for members of our community.
        We have to thank Sport England and Voscur for enabling us to be able to capture a taste of this class and follow along at home.
        So find a comfy spot in your home and take a deep breath.
        Flim credit Lizzie Goldsack

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