An old industrial tool room which was once part of a World War II munitions factory has been transformed into a modern events venue.
ROF 59 activity centre has spent more than £20,000 creating a new party room at its premises on Aycliffe Business Park.
In recent years the building was home to Presswork Metals which manufactured parts for the automotive industry until it closed in 2004.
But in the 1940s it was part of the huge Royal Ordnance Factory site in Newton Aycliffe which produced bombs and bullets for the war effort.
Now bosses at the new ROF 59 complex – which opened last summer and includes a trampoline park, climbing walls and restaurant – have completed the conversion of an old tool room into a multi-functional venue for parties and events.
And pensioner Vera Stobbs, an original ‘Aycliffe Angel’ who worked at the munitions factory during the war, was one of the first to sample the new party room when she celebrated her granddaughter’s 40th birthday there.
“I think it’s just wonderful!” said the 91-year-old.
“It’s amazing to see what was part of the old munitions factory now being used as a place to celebrate happy times – it’s unrecognisable compared to the place I used to call work more than 70 years ago.”
Vera’s granddaughter Emma Fielding (they’re both pictured at the party below) says she was blown away by the room’s transformation.
She said: “When I was initially shown the room it resembled a vacant, industrial factory, but ROF 59 helped me visualise what the room could look like and how we could bring it to life.
“Once I had decided a colour theme for my party, business development manager Kim Fryer and I got to work on what I wanted for the big night.
“Kim used her contacts to secure me an LED dance floor, poser tables and mood lighting along with a DJ and band and agreed the menu for the evening. She dressed the room on the day of the party.
“I hadn’t seen the decorated room prior to my arrival and when I walked through the door I was blown away at the transformation of how classy and upmarket it looked.
“It delivered a massive wow factor and my family and friends couldn’t believe a venue of such quality could be found in Newton Aycliffe.
“The party was more than a success and the food was first class. I would highly recommend ROF 59 as an event venue for anyone planning a party.”
Business development manager Kim Fryer, who has previously held similar roles at Auckland Castle in Bishop Auckland and the Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery, now has ambitious plans to host a range of functions at the new site including weddings, birthday parties and charity nights.
“The possibilities are literally endless,” says Kim, who’s originally from Birmingham and has more than 20 years’ experience in the hospitality industry.
“I’ve worked at some stunning places and hosted some pretty special events over the years and ROF 59 is another uniquely historical venue which can now cater for any kind of event.
“We’re looking forward to hosting more birthday parties, wedding receptions, charity nights and all kinds of events in the months and years ahead.”
ROF 59, on Durham Way South, opened last August after a £1.1m investment which created 30 new jobs.
Almost £600,000 was spent on constructing the steel frame for the 70,000 square foot facility which includes a 20-metre tall climbing wall, and a further £300,000 was spent fitting out its activity centre, restaurant and bar/lounge.
The ROF 59 munitions factory employed some 17,000 workers, mostly women, between 1941 and 1945 and was an extremely important part of the country’s war effort, with a number of fatalities reported at the time.
For all ROF 59 enquiries call 01325 728222 or email firstname.lastname@example.org