A WINCHESTER community hub has marked is 10th birthday despite initially facing scepticism from critics.

The Winchester Discovery Centre first opened its doors on November 27, 2007, and was designed by Hampshire County Council to blend a traditional library with a performance hall, art gallery and cafe.

In its first decade, the discovery centre has seen three million book loans, as well as welcoming half a million visitors and serving 55,000 cups of tea and coffee a year.

Marking the 10th anniversary, the hub welcomed members of the public and dignitaries to an event this week which saw a cake covering in children’s book character presented.

A series of free celebratory events open to members of the public have also been taking place this week, including collage art, interactive science experiments, zumba and salsa sessions.

Hampshire County Council’s executive member for culture, recreation and countryside Cllr Andrew Gibson said: “Winchester Discovery Centre was one of our first libraries where we blended strong library traditions with modern facilities such as a performance hall, art gallery and café to transform it into a real community hub.

“A key part of this success is down to the award-winning redesign by our in-house property services team, establishing the Discovery Centre as a versatile space and flagship venue. The popularity of the Discovery Centre is far greater than we’d dared to imagine – welcoming visitors of all ages for reading, learning, family activities and cultural events.

“My thanks go to all of our visitors, dedicated staff and volunteers who have contributed to its success. Here’s to the next 10 years.”

The creation of the Discovery Centre, in Jewry Street, saw the restoration of the existing Grade II* listed former Corn Exchange and library, which was originally constructed in 1838.

Despite opening its doors to the public on November 27, 2007, it was officially opened in 2008 by the Duchess of Cornwall.

Critics had feared that the creation of a community hub would have seen a downgrading of the importance of books due to the addition facilities.