By 1972 the auditorium had closed, although dances with live music and discos continued to be held every week in the Ballroom below. The closure of the collieries in the 1980’s led to a huge loss of income from miners’ subscriptions. By 2003, financial difficulties led to the Institute becoming bankrupt and the further closure of both the Ballroom and the Institute. Local people were deeply concerned about this; the once centre of their community had spiralled into decline, and faced possible demolition or being turned into a car park or a trendy pub.
“This was going to become a car park. What?!! Newbridge without the Memo? It doesn’t exist! Luckily it never happened.”
In 2003 the last two remaining trustees from the old board oversaw the closure of the building. Following its closure members from the Newbridge and District Ladies Choir started a petition which was presented to the then local MP Don Touhig. After brief discussions with CISWO (Coal Industry Social Welfare Organisation) it was decided that a group should be formed to ‘Save the Memo’. The campaign began with 400 people attending the first public meeting called by Don Touhig in 2003. ‘The Friends of Newbridge Memo’ were formed. The campaign gained significant press coverage and the group were approached by Endemol in 2004 to take part in the BBC2 television programme Restoration. The Memorial Hall was a close second in the final voting on 8th August 2004.
The current board of trustees formed in 2005 originate from ‘The Friends of Newbridge Memo’.
Topping out ceremony for the Institute 29th August 2012
The drive forward from the popularity and press since our appearance on Restoration led to an application to the Heritage Lottery Fund for significant restoration work and the rest is history.
The Institute reopened in 2013 and the Memorial Hall reopened in late 2014. None of this would have been possible without the passionate determination of a local community, the backing of local celebrities, politicians and the local authority, and the generous support of grants from Heritage Lottery Fund, Welsh Assembly Government, Welsh European Funding Office and Cadw.