A COMMUNITY centre is trawling through its archives as part of a project to celebrate its 80 years of history.

From its inception as a Girl’s Club in 1937 to its current community work, Alington House, in Durham, has seen thousands of people pass through its doors over the decades.

The community centre in North Bailey, which almost closed in 2009, is now thriving again under the leadership of Alan and Deborah Barnett.

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They have just secured funding from the Big Lottery fund for a project looking into the eight decades of social history the centre has seen, which will also include staging a play and hosting a 1940s tea dance and 1960s disco, later in the year.

Mrs Barnett, the centre’s development officer, said: “It’s been really interesting. We’re lucky because people have kept a lot of stuff so we have a lot to look through.

“The Girls’ Group was quite radical in its time. It was really the start of youth and community work. We’ve been looking at the different decades and you can see how it has changed.

“One of the main things was a social dance on a Saturday night. And it was the first disco to have a disco ball in the area. It was the place to be. We still have people who come in who went to the youth club here.”

The building is named after Hester Alington, the wife of a former Dean of Durham and founder of the Girls’ Club that moved in during the 1940s.

The club was initially based in Crossgate and moved to Claypath before acquiring the building in North Bailey in 1948.

A boys’ club was founded in the 1950s and it became a community centre in the 1980s.

It now hosts a range of activities, including a Pride cafe, bookshop, networking events, a group for visually impaired people and a women’s group.