What’s Going on with the Hall?

The rear view of the Hall will be enhanced by the proposed extension.

Lydbrook Athletic Football Club, rent the ground floor of the Memorial Hall from us. We’ve applied for planning permission, as their landlord, on their behalf to build an extension to enable them to provide better facilities for disabled users. When this was first discussed by the committee, it quickly became clear that a two-storey extension would increase building costs only a little. The LAFC offered to provide the labour and obtain funds to cover all costs for the proposed changes. So, there’s no financial cost to the Memorial Hall charity.

We’re hoping to improve facilities for all users and to increase usage, and therefore income for the charity, by making the venue more attractive. The plan is generally to increase space, which can be used to modernise the kitchen, create a better facility for the Lydbrook Players and other performers to use during stage shows, install a small bar (the Hall carries a licence covering the entire premises, and this would help us attract adult parties, wedding receptions, and other similar events), and create some storage for the chairs when not in use. The plans submitted to the Council depict a reduced kitchen, but internal construction is immaterial for planning application purposes; we may do more or less as we wish inside the extension once the outer walls have been constructed. Clearly, regular users will be consulted on this issue once things get under way. Anyone with ideas regarding this, and anything else relating to the Hall or the Recreation Ground, is welcome to attend our regular monthly meetings. These are held on the first Tuesday of each month at 19:00. (Very occasionally, we miss a meet, but rarely more than once a year, usually during the summer months when people are on holiday).

The toilets in the Hall are out of date. In particular, the disabled facilities no longer reach modern standards. Thanks to a grant made available by the Parish Council, a company has been engaged to replace the old toilets and work is due to start in early June. There should be no impact on regular users during this change. Once the plumbing work has been completed, we’ll be looking for volunteers to redecorate the toilets to make them more attractive. If you can wield a paintbrush, wash walls, sweep a floor, fill holes, or any other such skill, please let us know. We’re always looking for volunteers to help improve the facilities for the village.

There’ll be more room for improved facilities both in the Football Club and the Hall itself.

It’s our hope that this piece will inform everyone in the village about our intentions, and our reasons for making changes. We’re aware that rumours circulate when there’s no information available, and we’re sorry we couldn’t provide this in full previously. Hopefully, everyone will see that we’re trying, with limited funds, a small committee, and few volunteers, to improve these amenities for the benefit of all who use them. Your comments, in the space provided below, are most welcome.

Thank you.

Armistice Day at the Memorial Hall

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Sunday 11th November 2018: a date with real significance. Not only did Armistice Day fall on a Sunday this year, but it coincided with the centenary of the formal ending of World War 1. Because of this, a special service was organised for the Memorial Hall, the establishment of which was to remember all those local people who fell in battle on our behalf.

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Photo courtesy Mark Lythaby.

After the morning service at the Church of the Holy Jesus, the congregation filed out onto Church Road, where they were joined by many other people from the village. The Lydbrook Silver Band led the march down the hill and through the village to the hall, where all assembled in the narrow space permitted by the road. Made safe by the Parish Council, through Bruce Hogan who had arranged with the local police to have the road closed during the service.

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The memorial had already been enhanced by the generous gift of a commemorative bench by Lydbrook Athletic Football Club; a silhouette of a WWI soldier, sponsored by the Parish Council, and placed above the hall entrance; and another WWI soldier silhouette placed within the railings, sponsored by the local Royal British Legion branch.

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The Rev. Roger Minson led the religious aspect of the service with hymns and prayers.
Trevor Hek hosted the ceremony on behalf of the Royal British Legion, ensuring all went according to plan. He read out the names of those commemorated, giving details about their service. And, as the names were read, the staff and pupils of Lydbrook Primary School placed poppy crosses at the memorial, and wreaths were laid.
The Royal British Legion Standard was in the capable hands of Standard-bearer Tammie Johnstone.

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Photo courtesy Mark Lythaby.

The Last Post was played, evoking that usual lump-in-the-throat response by many, by Robert Morgan, M.B.E., who also led and conducted the Lydbrook Silver Band, playing appropriate music and accompanying the hymns.

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Rachael Mowatt, of the Women’s Institute, read John McCrae’s ‘In Flanders Fields’, evoking more memories and thoughts of the devastating effects of war.
The gathered crowd of attendees did the village proud; a good throng, representing all ages. Even one or two villagers in poor health managed to attend and all braved the sudden downpours without complaint. And, at least the sun emerged afterwards.

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The sincere thanks of the Committee of Lydbrook Memorial Hall and Recreation Ground go to all who participated in, organised, and attended this centenary commemoration of the sacrifice of our brave local heroes.

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Sorry to be late with this – I was collecting information. My photographs are a little limited, as I climbed the path opposite the hall to get an overall shot and was then trapped there for the duration. If anyone has additional pictures they’d be willing to share here, please use the ‘Contact’ tab to get in touch, and we can make arrangements. Thank you.

Lydbrook 100 – A Celebration of Village History.

 

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The Memorial Hall is hosting a celebratory exhibition of the history of Lydbrook right now!
There are information boards and displays from the Lydbrook Historical Society – I particularly enjoyed the one about the 17 pubs the village once housed! And there are some fascinating photographs of the place as it developed. Others showing the industrial heritage. Lots of pictures showing local people either in groups or going about their everyday business. Really interesting stuff.

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There’s a wide display by the Women’s Institute, giving details of their history and current activities. I loved the tea towel giving a list of humorous rules relating to the behaviour and conduct of the attendees.

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The local branch of the Royal British Legion has a great display showing the work they do and commemorating the local heroes (and heroines) of the two World Wars, and presenting various items of interest, including some facsimiles of old newspapers of the times.

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And there’s a pictorial history of Lydbrook Silver Band and its activities, including the building of the new practice room. Lots of pictures of band members past and present.

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And there’s coffee, tea and biscuits on offer.
It’s a great place to spend an hour or so out of this dreadful rain, either revisiting old haunts or finding out what happened in the past here in the village.
But better be quick! The display is open only until 16:00 today, 10th November. Get along there before you miss out!

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.

New Floor, New Badminton Court!

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After the sanding.

Over the past few days, a couple of generous gentlemen volunteers, who wish to remain anonymous, have been diligently attacking the floor of the hall. Estimates are that it was last given any treatment some 20 years ago, maybe longer.

The badminton court had almost disappeared with wear, some of the floorboards were sprouting splinters, and the general finish was pretty poor. So, we shelled out the cash for the necessary equipment and materials, and a couple of stalwarts volunteered to do the deed without charge.

Due to almost constant use, it was difficult to find days when there would be free time to get on with the task. But through liaison between our splendid secretary, Faith Myers, and our wonderfully flexible users, we were able to fit in the various tasks.

First, the floor needed sanding to remove the old varnish and smooth away the splinters. That inevitably led to dust falling in places we’d really rather it hadn’t. But the hall is such that it’s impossible to store everything away from such contamination. No matter, once the sanding was finished, the residual dust was soon cleaned away.

Next came the marking out of the new Badminton Court. An online search brought up plans in metric and imperial and these were handed to the men on the job. Tape measures, knives, set squares and tape to hand, they marked out the lines to form a perfect modern court.

Then came the painting of the white lines. A tedious and exacting job, particularly in the hot weather we’ve been experiencing recently.

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The Badminton Court is painted in place.

The longest job, requiring total absence of users from the hall for 3 days, was the application of the recommended coating. This non-slip varnish was applied in 3 coats over the white lines to help protect them against future wear.

The job was finished on Friday and left to dry in time for use on Saturday. Now, everything is back to normal for all users. The Committee would like to extend their thanks to the gentlemen who did the work (you know who you are!) and users have also asked us to express their thanks for a splendid job well done!

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And the new floor is ready for use!

Without this sort of generosity from local people, we wouldn’t be able to afford to keep the hall (and the recreation ground) up to scratch. We’re always looking for help, so if you’re willing, please contact any of the committee or use the short form on the contact page to get in touch with us. Thank you.

New Flagpole; New Flag!

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Work in progress

The more observant among the villagers of Lydbrook may have noticed there’s a new flagpole decorating the Memorial Hall, complete with Union Flag flying.

The old pole was in a dangerous condition and we were intending to remove it as not fit for purpose. The building would have been left without its flagpole.

Fortunately, some new neighbours of our Treasurer, Keith Newman, were happy to donate the pole from the grounds of their new home. Maxine and Terry Hannam then helped Keith and his son to erect the new pole.

So, many thanks from the Trustees to these generous villagers.

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Finishing touches.