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Ashford's Joe Fagg Pop Inn Centre is demolished today after 35 years in the town centre

By Charlie Harman

A long-standing community hall is being demolished today, four months later than originally scheduled.

The Joe Fagg Pop Inn Centre in Vicarage Lane Car Park welcomed guests for 35 years, hosting outreach services, clinics and events for the elderly.

Age UK was given planning permission for the building in 1984, which was renewed in 1989 with the condition that it would be demolished once the lease was up.

The Joe Fagg Pop Inn Centre in Vicarage Lane Car Park is being demolished today.
The Joe Fagg Pop Inn Centre in Vicarage Lane Car Park is being demolished today.

The lease was surrendered last year, with Ashford Borough Council quickly moving in to dismantle the structure in February.

However asbestos was found on the site, forcing delays while specialist assessments and removals took place.

The expected demolition was then pushed back to May, but the work has finally begun today.

Demolition work being carried out on the former community centre

The centre's name comes from popular Ashford resident Joe Fagg, a haulage firm owner, who ran coach trips for the town's older residents.

He also provided vehicles and drivers for the town's carnival floats.

A one-time Ashford Football Club Manager, the MBE recipient - known as 'Mr Ashford' - also served as the captain of the golf club, chairman of the local gala day committee and a rotarian.

Joe Fagg (centre), pictured in 1942-43, organised entertainment for the Second World War troops stationed in Ashford. (4386084)
Joe Fagg (centre), pictured in 1942-43, organised entertainment for the Second World War troops stationed in Ashford. (4386084)

When Age UK vacated the premises, they moved their services to Stanhope. But the move has sparked a decrease in footfall, which at the Joe Fagg Pop Inn Centre was 110 people a week, with the charity's chief suggesting a return to the town centre.

The demolition site is within the footprint of a major town centre rejuvenation scheme, which will see theatre space, retail units and houses installed behind the High Street's former Mecca Bingo Hall.

Read more: All the latest news from Ashford

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