Designed by the architect RT Longden of Burslem, the Leek Co-operative Emporium was originally opened as a department store but for the last ten years, has stood vacant. This spurned local residents to form the Leek Community Benefit Society (Leek CBS), whose aim was to bring the Co-operative Emporium back into the community.
The first phase of this was redecoration of the large showroom on the ground floor, where the walls, ceiling and even floor needed painting! Fortunately, Leek CBS was able to get everything they needed from Community RePaint Stoke on Trent (which collects full and half-tins of leftover paint donated by residents) and, thanks to a team of committed volunteers, had the space decorated in time to host events as part of the Leek Arts Festival.
“The whole showroom has been transformed using paint from Community RePaint Stoke on Trent,” said Jill Norman, Chief Officer at SMCVS and Secretary of Leek CBS, “It was really important to have clean, white walls to display the paintings and the paint has been key to us bringing the Co-operative Emporium back into the community.”
The space has subsequently been used for a host of craft shows, vintage markets and food fairs, showcasing local community groups whilst also inviting the community into the building. Following the success of the first phase the LCBS now has its sights set on revitalising the first and second floors of the Co-operative Emporium.