Newbridge Miners' Institute and Hall houses the largest ballroom in the south Wales valleys and has an art deco auditorium. Photo: Deryck Lewis
The art deco Newbridge Institute and Memorial Hall has been granted half a million pounds from the Big Lottery Fund to kickstart its restoration.
A proposed new extension will include lifts and disabled access to all parts of the 1908 Grade II listed building in Caerphilly county for the first time.
The plight of the Newbridge Memo won national recognition when it was runner up in the BBC's Restoration series.
A final go ahead decision is expected in the New Year for the development.
Howard Stone, chair of the Newbridge Institute & Memorial Hall, welcomed this early Christmas present for the £4.8m project.
"This funding has come at a crucial time in the development of the project which will enable us to kick start both phases of the development with confidence," he said.
"The Institute and Memorial Hall is not some crumbling monument to the wealth and privilege of a bygone age. Its very existence proves that ordinary people can become truly extraordinary through vision, generosity and sheer determination," he added.
"We have been given a helping hand in the first step towards saving these buildings for the benefit of the community by Big Lottery Fund and we now need the people's support to ensure that its heritage is saved for future generations".
The Newbridge Memo is the town's main community building, providing facilities for 20 local groups and societies as well as hosting live music and community events.
The institute was built after local miners clubbed together to improve the area's amenities
The Memo already up to 35,000 visitors a year and hopes to increase that number to 50,000 by 2014.
Plans include increased activity for senior citizens and younger people, as well a providing a new home for a Library Information Resource Centre and the RAF Association Wales Office, offering help and support to ex-service personnel.
In July the project was awarded £129,600 from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) to help develop detailed plans for Phase 2.
This will involve the complete restoration of the Memorial Hall's art deco ball room and theatre interior.
Once the proposal is drawn up, the project will make a second round bid to the HLF in the new year for £2.8m to complete the £3.8m final phase.
Janet Reed, chair of the Big Lottery Fund's People and Places committee, said the money would support an important community resource.
"It delivers on our promise to use Lottery funding to regenerate and revitalise communities, tackle disadvantage head on and leave a lasting legacy," she said.
"I'm sure this project will have a positive impact on the lives of many people in the community and will continue to do so for years to come."
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