IT took nearly two decades of volunteer-driven work but Charlbury's new £2.5million community centre is now open.

The new centre in Enstone Road boasts a state-of-the-art sports hall, a larger, new-look public library, a multi-use studio and a community cafe.

Former Prime Minister David Cameron dug a spade at the site of the centre to mark the start of building work last September.

And on Saturday, just before villagers welcomed the Tour of Britain cycle race to town, the former Witney MP officially returned to officially open the building.

At the heart of the project is The Thomas Gifford Trust, a charity which has roots going back to the 16th century.

The trust owns the land, but chairman Marjorie Glasgow said it was 'generous' donations from people in the town and grants from Oxfordshire County Council, Sport England, West Oxfordshire District Council and the England and Wales Cricket Board had built the new centre.

She added: "This is the start of a new era for Charlbury. With the brilliant new sports hall, the bright new expanded library, the state-of-the-art studio and the community café, the centre really does offer something for everyone.

"This project would still be a long-held dream without generous donations and grants.

"Most of all, it’s down to the perseverance, generosity and hard work of the organisations and people in Charlbury."

The building’s flexible design allows each of its spaces to be used for a variety of purposes, and all visitors have access to the centre’s free wi-fi network.

The main hall caters for various sports, from football pitches to individual courts for casual players to professionals.

It also lends out equipment for badminton, volleyball, cricket, basketball, tennis, netball, pickleball and futsal.

The project first began in 1995 after Oxfordshire County Council demolished the former Spendlove School and sold the land to housing developers.

The school had been used for community activities, so the council promised £340,000 from the sale to provide educational facilities for the community.

Various other grants and donations contributed to the final £2.5m cost.

Among the new facilities is a new town library which is three times the size of the former facility.

It provides space for more public access computers as well as a children’s area.

Oxfordshire County Council cabinet member for cultural services Lorraine Lindsay-Gale said: "We’re delighted to be a part of this fantastic new community centre.

"Right across our countywide network of 43 libraries we’re continuing to look at ways of improving services in a way that suits the needs of the different communities they serve. At Charlbury we saw a great opportunity to integrate our facilities with other local services and amenities, and to bring the library closer to many more people as a result."