Freemasons in Bournemouth have offered their building to the NHS should it require extra capacity during the coronavirus crisis.

His Royal Highness The Duke of Kent, Grand Master of the order, suspended all Masonic activity for four months in March and the substantial building is unused.

Freemasons’ Hall is equipped with large rooms, professional kitchens and a big car park. It could also be used for storage.

The building in Knole Road, Boscombe, was built in 1872 for the philanthropist Edmund Christy and for a time was a hotel before the town’s Freemasons bought it in the late 1950s.

The building has been used previously in a time of emergency when, in World War II, it was used briefly as the headquarters of the 11th Infantry Brigade.

It was also used to house children who had been evacuated from London and Portsmouth.

Bob Sawant, its manager, said: “As the building is empty it makes sense to offer it.

“Of course we don’t want to be in a position in which the NHS has need for extra capacity, but if it does we are ready to hand it over.

“We have a large room that could be converted into a ward and a big car park that could be utilised – maybe for temporary buildings or storage.

“There is the capability to cook large numbers of meals and there are a number of other rooms that could be used.

“As Freemasons we want to do what we can to help the national effort in fighting this coronavirus.”

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