An Update to the Hall’s History.

I’ve had the chance, due to recently received information, to correct an impression of neglect at the Hall prior to when the new committee formed in 2016. I’m happy to insert this piece into the history to set the record straight.

Bruce Hogan became involved in the Memorial Hall in 2001. Just before that, the old stone retaining wall between the recreation ground and the chapel had collapsed. The insurance company reluctantly paid for the gabion basket wall that’s now there, at one basket below its current level, but they increased our premium to a level that placed the Hall on the verge of going bust.

The committee at the time were ageing and few are still with us. Bruce immediately found affordable insurance.

At the time, the Hall was in a dreadful state of repair. The old steel-framed windows had rusted and many panes of glass were missing. They were boarded up from the inside and there was no natural daylight inside. The bay window had been converted into a cupboard for the playgroup.

The railings around the fire escape into the Health Centre car park were missing. The sub-floor ventilation had been blocked, as the air bricks were below the current pavement level and were served by wells blocked with debris. The sub-floor ventilation had also been compromised by the creation of the Athletic Club in what was once the coal cellar. The Club had no formal lease and paid rent at well below the market value initially. Bruce, however, was able to negotiate a lease with the Club. That lease was recently renewed, and the Club and the trustees continue a very healthy and good working relationship.

He managed to obtain a grant to replace the old windows with the current double-glazed PVC windows, which insulate much better against cold and noise. To minimise the noise effect on our immediate neighbours, the rear windows were made smaller. Bruce negotiated a discounted fee for scaffolding to enable walls to be built below the reduced height windows and erected the new walls himself as well as rendering the outside and plastering the inside.

The play group cupboard was removed, revealing dry rot in the bay window floor. Bruce gained funding to treat the area and he rebuilt the floor higher to improve sub-floor ventilation into the Hall itself. This is now provided by uPVC pipes he installed, visible by the bay window and war memorial.

He also installed the current railings around the rear fire escape, donating the scaffolding tubes.

Drainage from the front roof ran over the pavement, causing icing in the winter. To cure this, he created a soakaway by lifting paving slabs in front of the war memorial and removing a cubic metre of subsoil, filling the space with pea gravel and relaying the slabs.

Many other minor maintenance jobs were also done by Bruce, some as recently as last year. He’s not alone in this activity; a small core of committee stalwarts continue to do much of the maintenance work on the hall as volunteers; something we’d welcome outside help for, if anyone’s willing and able.

As treasurer, Bruce produced balanced, audited accounts, sensibly refusing to deal with petty cash, so that every penny passed through our bank accounts. This habit continues today, as a secure method of dealing with money under the rules and suggested practises of the Charity Commission.

This post is a statement of thanks to Bruce and all others involved, and an attempt to set the record straight so we can move forward in our hopes of improving facilities even further, and as a way of making public some of the dedicated work that goes on behind the scenes, often invisible to users of the Hall and the Recreation Ground. Recently, for instance, committee members, along with volunteers including some Lydbrook Players, have redecorated the interior of the hall, sanded the floor, repainted the badminton court and varnished the floor. The guttering was repaired following damage by the heavy snow, and the bay window has now been made waterproof. A new flagpole has been donated and erected, and outside lights are now fitted. We’re hoping to complete the exterior decoration over the next few months. And the recreation ground is due to be made safer and more attractive when old brambles and weeds are treated and removed. So, lots still going on.

We’re always in need of practical help, volunteer labour, both skilled and unskilled, the generosity of funding organisations, and of individuals. These facilities have served the community well for many decades. If they’re to continue in that valuable role, we need more local people to lend a hand. It doesn’t involve a great deal of time, just a few hours here and there. So, if you’re interested in doing something to help the community in which you live, please pop along to our next meeting, in the hall, at 19:00 on Tuesday, 7th August, and let us know what you can offer. Thank you. If you can’t attend, please contact us with any offers via the ‘Contact’ tab at the top of the website.

This is the first of what I envisage may be a short series of posts correcting false impressions from the past or filling in blanks in the history of the charity and its work. I invite anyone with any knowledge of, or records about, the Memorial Hall and/or the Recreation Ground, to contact me as above. We can then arrange to meet and/or exchange any documents and information. Thank you.

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