Supporters of Thornley Community Space have vowed to fight back after a shocking act of vandalism caused thousands of pounds of damage to the rural property on the outskirts of Longridge.
Newly installed heritage windows have been smashed causing damage estimated at £11,000. Talks are continuing with insurers.
Meanwhile despite the setback to the ambitious plans to turn the long empty former school property into a resource for community use, those involved in the transformation project say renovation work will continue.
Trustee Janet Forshaw said it is hoped the space will be open for use by next summer. She said: “One of the things we had managed to get through fund raising and grants was to replace all the windows. Eighteen or 19 had been smashed – it’s just completely devastating but we’ve picked ourselves up.”
She stressed it is not thought anyone from the local community had been involved in the destruction but rather it was a one-off act of vandalism.
Janet continued: “It’s a beautiful building - we are just wanting to bring it back into use. We’re planning to replace the windows.”
Work is now carrying on to upgrade the inside of the former Thornley School, near Longridge.
Janet said the building had a proud history of being used by the community: “It was left to the children of Thornley by Lord Derby and until 1978 it was a school.
“Then it was a community hall for 20 years after that. Then it got to the stage it as run down and needed a lot of work and closed as a community hall.”
It had remained empty until the community got together to decide what the future might hold for the building.
The decision was taken to work to bring it back into use and make it available for community use.
Janet said the property is small but will be ideal for small meetings and events. Other possible uses are as a stopover for cyclists and walkers or as a venue for pilates and yoga classes and music groups.
She added : “We hope to have it in use in some form by next summer. We’ve a lot more people involved and a lot of volunteers. The windows just floored everybody but I think we’ve got back up. There’s a huge amount to be done.”
She thanked local businesses for their support.