In 1987 the Ebenezer Chapel on the High Street in Edenrbidge closed it doors. The trustees wanted it to continue in some form of Christian service, but in 1991 concluded that they had no option but to dispose of it. Thankfully, the Edenbridge Historical Society and the Residents’ Association were keen to preserve the chapel and successfully applied for it to be listed as a Grade 2 building of historic interest. This prevented the characteristic old buildlng from being repurposed into shops or offices. 

At the same time, a partnership of churches in Edenbridge were searching for a suitable base on the High Street where they  might offer an evening venue for young people to gather, or provide a comfortable place for older people to wait for the bus, or meet friends while shopping. The local Traidcraft group which ran successful Christmas pop-up shops was also seeking a town centre outlet to sell Fair Trade products throughout the year.

In those days, local people had nowhere to go for a coffee, or to wait for the bus, other than smoke-filled pubs, and even these were inaccessible to children’s pushchairs or wheelchairs. ‚ÄčThe old Ebenezer chapel seemed to tick all the right boxes. 

In 1992, the Ebenezer’s Trustees agreed to sell the chapel to on a 4-year mortgage for the sum of £37,000. A Trust was formed in 1993, named BRIDGES, to signify its purpose to ‘bridge gaps’ in the community.

‚ÄčThe whole community helped BRIDGES’ Trustees to raise £105,000 in total, which not only paid off the mortgage within 3 years, but also covered the costs of the repairs and refurbishment of the building as a community centre.

The BRIDGES Centre opened on 18th April 1995, for 3 mornings a week, staffed with the help of 35 volunteers.

To find out more about Bridges follow this link   The Bridges Centre

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