Former village school is given new lease of life as north Norfolk arts hub

The Belfry in Overstrand is to be turned into a new community arts centre. Picture: ARCHANT

The Belfry in Overstrand is to be turned into a new community arts centre. Picture: ARCHANT - Credit: Colin Finch

The banging of hammers and splosh of paintbrushes will soon be replaced with the sound of music at a new arts hub.

Keith Hobday and Lucy Murphy are opening the Belfry Centre for Music and Arts in Overstrand. Picture

Keith Hobday and Lucy Murphy are opening the Belfry Centre for Music and Arts in Overstrand. Picture: MILES JERMY - Credit: Archant

Work is well underway to transform a former village school into a venue that is hoped will play an important part in the cultural life of north Norfolk.

The Belfry Centre for Music and Arts at Overstrand, near Cromer, is due to open to the public next month providing a space for learning and performance.

The centre, which aims to nurture creativity and talent, is the brainchild of Keith Hobday and Lucy Murphy.

The couple, who live in Overstrand with their son Danny, have set up a community interest company to manage the venue.


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The Belfry will host a pre-school music sessions, music lessons and ensemble performances. Classes are also planned in life drawing, French conversation, creative writing and basic computer skills. Facilities will include a cafe and rehearsal rooms.

Concerts are also planned at the centre, which it is hoped could provide a performance venue for the Cromer and North Norfolk Festival of Music and Dance.

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Head of strings at Gresham's School, Mr Hobday said: 'When we wake up in the morning this is all consuming, it is very exciting and I really think The Belfry will be a tremendous asset and success.

'I am very passionate advocate of music and arts being part of people's lives. We have both worked in education for many years and when the opportunity came up to do this we grabbed it with both hands.'

The Belfry was opened as a school in 1830 by members of the local Buxton and Gurney families. The school closed in 1999 and the building, which is owned by a trust, was later used as artist studios.

Miss Murphy, who previously taught at Sidestrand Hall School, will manage the centre.

She said: 'We hope this will become a focal point for the music and arts on the north Norfolk coast.

'The building was provided by Sarah Buxton and Anna Gurney for the use of the community and it is fantastic to keep that legacy going. We want this to be open six days a week and for the local people to come in for whatever reason they want - whether it be reading a newspaper or playing an instrument.'

An additional upright piano is needed for use in the centre. Anyone one able to loan or donate an instrument should call 01263 579196.

For more information visit The Belfry Centre for Music and Arts on Facebook.

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