THE oldest institute in Wales held an event to mark its relaunch this week after a three-year "struggle" to finish revamp work on the centre.

Nearly 400 people came through the doors of the Ebbw Vale Institute, in Church Street, Ebbw Vale, on Wednesday, August 13, to celebrate the centre’s relaunch.

The Grade II listed building and educational and cultural centre, which holds classes, performances and events, dates back to 1849.

The 160-year-old building has now been fitted with a function room, a bar and disabled access facilities, which join the theatre, dance studio, gallery, recording room and rehearsal space.

Dai Davies, strategic development manager at EVI, said: “The event was excellent yesterday. We had a very good turn out from the community, including lots of children who enjoyed the bouncy castle.

“We do have financial challenges with us all the time and are always in need to look for grant funding and looking to be as self-sustained as we possibly can be.

“But the relaunch means now we can expand and we have got the facilities to be a really good events venue.”

In 2009 social enterprise agency ProMo-Cymru reopened EVI following a £290,000 cash boost from the Assembly, which was followed by the company receiving a lottery grant to refurbish the centre.

Welsh radio and television broadcaster Roy Noble attended Wednesday’s event and said how important it is to remember the centre’s history in order to develop for the future.

Mr Davies said: “Roy Noble has longstanding links to the area so he could relate to this building as what it used to be, an institute established through the steel and iron industry.

“With Roy’s broadcasting experience, he recognised the opportunities the place can be used for.”

Councillor Brian Clements, for Ebbw Vale South ward, said: “It’s been a long time coming and a real struggle to get the place ready.

“It had been left for seven years. It’s important to preserve it and a tremendous amount of work was involved. I can only wish them the very best for the future.”