1976 - St Mary the Virgin opens as Community Centre
On 6th May 1976, eight years after the doors of St Mary the Virgin church had been closed, leaving many parishioners broken-hearted, its doors re-opened as a Community Centre for the town of Stony Stratford.
The Wolverton Express reported that this was the result of eight years of effort by the Parochial Church Council and Stony Stratford Association.
The newspaper also quoted the Vicar of St Mary and St Giles, the Reverend C.H.J. Cavell-Northam, describing the achievement as a lesson to people not to lose heart. "Like Bruce's spider we seemed to climb up and down the wall trying to interest someone in converting the building to community use but no-one seemed interested," he said.
Photograph of St Mary the Virgin church being cleared of its pews in April 1968. Photo taken by the Wolverton Express.
Sir Ralph Verney officially opened the centre and as the Wolverton Express tells us he delighted his audience by referring to Stony Stratford as the elite community in Milton Keynes. "Stony Stratford has always been the most responsible community of Milton Keynes and this is a great responsibility to carry on," he said. The report then went on to say that the community centre could play a great part in providing a welcome to the newcomers who faced the frightening prospect of moving to a new city of a quarter of a million population.
A Wolverton Express photograph. Taken inside the new community centre. 1976.
A current photograph of St Mary the Virgin building, now a Community Centre. January 2001.