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ABOUT 1855

Who are we and what do we offer our community?

‘Sturminster Newton Benefit Society’ was set up to help maintain Sturminster’s reputation as a great place to live, work and play. All profits are used to support initiatives in the Town.

‘The Community Chest,’ opened its doors Easter 2018, selling clothing, furniture and everything in between. Donations were received and sorted, all in one little shop. Within 2 years we had outgrown the space.

I had the opportunity to view Lloyds Bank for extra storage. On viewing the Bank with the Landlord John Romans, a cheeky proposal resulted in an agreement for us to use the building as a shop. Two weeks of hard graft with the help of many of our Volunteers and ‘The Emporium’ was born. We opened the doors to The Emporium on 20th July 2020. The Community Chest was restyled into a stunning Preloved Boutique selling good quality and high end/designer ladies, children’s clothing and accessories.  The Emporium sells an array of items including furniture, collectibles, antiquities, kitchenalia and much more. It also houses ‘Dapper Chaps’ preloved Men’s clothing and a stunning pre-loved Art Gallery on the first floor. We also team up with The Pantry to stop food waste with our Community Fridge. The Rooms upstairs also double up as two Meeting Rooms that the Community are able to use and office space for Jacqui Wragg, the Towns events coordinator. There is also a third floor which will be renovated into office space to help embryo businesses get on their feet.

The Society became a Charity in October 2022.

Mr Romans has been so impressed in those two years with all that we have achieved for the Community and environment that he has ‘gifted’ The Emporium’ Building to the Community Benefit Society and the Town in perpetuity.

When we opened the doors to The Emporium, we never dreamt that we would need extra space, but lo and behold we recently signed a lease on Barclays to sell second hand furniture, again thanks to the generosity of John Romans. The Emporium Furniture Warehouse is open most Saturdays ad some weekdays. When closed viewing is arranged through The Emporium. It has already become very popular and furniture is selling like hot cakes.

So that is 2 banks that we are utilising!!

Since both The Boutique and The Emporium have been trading, we have got to know many, many small local Business’s and an idea started to formulate.

The third Bank, Nat West, we restyled behind boarded up windows for a year. The formal, corporate style of the Bank is no longer evident, but is now a wonderful eclectic, steampunk warehouse which houses 70 plus local individual businesses,  Artisans and Traders hiring a space.  We were struggling to think of a name for this new venture as it couldn’t be pigeon-holed. Jacqui, who loves local history did some research on the Bank and found out when it was built and ‘1855’ was born.

We decided to have a ‘soft opening week’ to iron out any hiccups before the big launch, but that week was far from that. We have had the most amazing first week, with some of the Traders having to re-stock for The Grand Opening which was on 27th November 2022.

The Garden Room showcases and sells Art and Sculptures. We are also utilising this room as an eclectic events room with a little stage which will be available for rental.  It certainly has the ‘Wow’ factor with our very own Marble Arch.

1855 has 2 vaults, one a ‘Wine and Beer Vault’ and the second ‘The Vault of Curiosities.’

What an incredible 4 years! 3 former banks and a Boutique with all profits being reinvested into the Town.

It’s been the most incredible journey with the most amazing volunteers, customers and colleagues and without your support and fabulous donations none of this would have been possible.

Many, many thanks for all the support we have had.

How lucky are we to live in such a wonderful and community spirited Town.

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