The 57-bed Grade II listed Alnwick Youth Hostel retains many of the original features from its time as a courtroom and house of correction including an exercise yard and prison bars on the original exterior wall.
An outbuilding that probably stabled a police horse is being renovated to provide a secure area for visiting cyclists to keep their bicycles safe as well as offering a facility for route planning and communal meetings.
Bill Grisdale from Alnwick Youth Hostel was delighted with the £5,000 donation from Northumberland Freemasons which will help to carry out some of the building work.
He said: ”We’ve noticed a real growth in cyclists staying with us.”
"We want the hub to be available for use by local residents and day visitors to the town, to make commuting by bicycle easier and safer. It is hoped that we can encourage people out of their cars and onto bikes, which will have huge environmental benefits for our medieval town, which was not designed to cope with modern traffic.
“We also had a lot of feedback from visiting cyclists saying that they needed somewhere to meet and chat as well as having somewhere to keep their cycles secure. We really couldn’t get any more secure than an ex-prison,” he said. “On behalf of the Alnwick Youth Hostel, I’d like to thank Northumberland Freemasons for helping us to fund our cycling hub project.”
Alnwick Freemason Steve Whitting revealed that each year, the Provincial Grand Lodge of Northumberland through the Richard Henry Holmes Masonic Benevolent Fund donates around £160,000 to local charities and good causes including food banks to boost worthwhile and deserving projects throughout Northumberland, Newcastle and North Tyneside.
“We are delighted to help the Alnwick Youth Hostel with funding some of their building work which will provide a much-needed resource for visiting cyclists,” he said.
“As a keen cyclist myself averaging around 150 miles per week I can appreciate the need for somewhere to secure the bikes and also chat with other like-minded people.”