LET US play - musicians are tuning up to buy up an old church hall in Dorchester.

The Durnovaria Silver Band hopes to raise £125,000 to buy the Fordington Methodist Church Hall and turn it into a community arts centre.

The venue would become a performance and pratice space for the long-established group but would also be open for community groups to use.

They have raised about £43,000 so far but are also appealing for members of the public to back the enterprise with a dividend paid out to investors.

Durnovaria band spokesman David Henshaw said: “It would be absolutely brilliant and would really revitalise the band.”

He added: “The chapel has a little stage and it would have a lovely itimiate atmosphere.”

The band practived at the hall until last autumn but had to leave when the church closed the Fordington chapel.

They decided to try bid for the church and hall after it went on the market. The scheme is open to all to invest in. Investments have range up to £10,000 so far but Mr Henshaw said all amounts are welcome whether it is £5 or £250 or more. Investors will receive a dividend as a return on their money. It is yet to be set but may be about one or two per cent.

Mr Henshaw said: “The building is expected to make a small surplus that should pay a modest dividend to backers, although obviously something like this has to be seen as a long-term investment.”

If successful, the purchase will give the band its practice rooms back but they also hope to turn the old chapel into a small performance venue seating abouty 70 to 100 people.

Mr Henshaw added: “With three rooms of different sizes and two small stages, we think the building could be used for all sorts of things, from dance and music classes, to live music shows and art exhibitions.”

The band is currently rehearsing in anoth hall off Lubbecke Way in Dorchester.

Call Mr Henshaw on 01305 259998 or email durnovaria@atob.org.uk and visit durnovaria-silver-band.org.uk for more details and to support the project.

The Dorchester-based Durnovaria Silver Band was founded in 1936 by Edwin Otter and his wife Kay with Harold Hawker and Eric Symes. The band plays around Dorset, from Wool in the east to Lyme Regis in the west. They have also visited Dorchester's twin towns of Bayeux and Lubbecke numerous times. In 1969 the band became the first foreign civilian band to play in Berlin since the end of the Second World War in 1945.

They have won many competitions throughout their long history.

Edwin Otter remained musical director until his death in 1983. Peter Standing was appointed as his successor before Bill Aird took over and passed the baton to Alan Carcary.

Albert Davies took over, followed by John Pritchard until 2004, when he was succeeded by Liz Carter, the current musical director.