AN Examiner competition has paid for a new community library and computer room in Longwood.

The suite at the Mechanics Hall has been completed after Longwood Village Group won last year’s Examiner’s Community Chest sponsored by Barclays.

The £2,800 prize has meant a former classroom in the hall has been transformed into a library and computer room.

Hall manager David Fairbank said it would benefit all the community.

“I’d like to thank the villagers of Longwood for collecting as many Community Chest tokens as they did because if it wasn’t for their support we wouldn’t have the funds for these wonderful facilities,’’ he said.

“It is so nice to see the community come together and support what we are doing here, and it is good that local businesses such as the Examiner and Barclays are supporting us too.

“The hall is important to a lot of people. It has such a great history that shouldn’t be forgotten and we are doing all we can to preserve this great building for the good of everyone.”

The library and computer suite will be open every Wednesday from 2pm for villagers to use.

It is hoped that the transformation of one of the old classrooms at the hall, which dates back to 1858, will encourage more people to use it.

Mr Fairbank added: “There is so much that could be done here and in time we will do as much as we can.

“I really do want to encourage more community groups to use the building at night and during the day and make it the focal point for Longwood.”

Staff at the hall are now exploring ways of making it self-maintaining.

Solar panelling could be introduced to provide enough power to maintain the hall, while rainwater collected on the roof will be used by the owners of the nearby allotments throughout the year.

Work on a new porch is expected to start in June which Mr Fairbank said would give the hall a new look from the outside. It is expected to be finished by September to mark the hall’s 150th anniversary.

In the future, Mr Fairbank hopes to create a community cafe and open up the many other rooms in the hall.

The village hall benefited from the Examiner’s Community Chest and sponsors Barclays who put up a generous £15,000 donation for local community groups and organisations.

Longwood Village Group got the most votes to become the winner and were presented with £2,800.