Barry Murton, local resident, tells us what the Wells Centre means to his family.
We moved here from Horton Hill in 1982. Our son was six and already going to Stamford Green School and our daughter was two.
We had friends up here who had kids at Stamford Green, so soon became part of the community. Elaine, my wife, and our daughter went to the mother and toddler group at the Wells Centre and our son to Beavers and later, Cubs. As soon as our daughter was old enough, she went to Brownies and Guides. Both also went to the youth club and to ‘Miss Barbara’s’ dance class.
In 1989, we even had our 25 Wedding anniversary in the newly-built community centre. Downstairs in the apply named Spalding Rooms – named after Dorothy Spalding who did so much for the community and the Guides in the area. We also went to several social events held in both the old and new centres.
Elaine went to the Towns Women’s Guild which was held in both centres. We became active in helping the Guides and Scouts, and I was chairman of 7th Epsom’s fund raising committee along with ‘friend of the Wells’, Neil Dallen! [Editor’s note: Barry’s being sarcastic here. Neil Dallen has been instrumental in the EEBC efforts to close and demolish the centre]
We seemed to be involved in all our kid’s activities from Scouts, Guides, school PTA, etc. and was I was chairman of Epsom Youth Theatre for nearly 20 years, while Elaine was secretary even after our kids had long gone off to drama school!
It seems strange that once I had been made redundant and retired and we had more time on our hands that we would start to use the retirement club up at the centre. Elaine’s health had deteriorated over the last few year so it was time to step back and let others take up the mantle. Little did we know that our plans would be thwarted by the very man I regarded as hero in our community – Neil Dallen, and I would end up getting so involved with the fight to Save the Wells Centre!
It all started with our newly elected councillor Martin Olney deciding he would have yellow lines put around The Wells Estate – he couldn’t understand that we didn’t want it. It would seem that one conversation he had during the hustings convinced him that it was a great idea. Before I knew it, I was on the Wells Centre Social committee! Still don’t know how it happened but thanks Jacqueline!
There were rumours going round that the centre was closing, and Martin Olney had great delight in saying that it would be closing and would be redeveloped as housing! Thereby starting our campaign to take control of the centre and get it reopened as a valuable asset space for use and run by the local community.
But that is another chapter!