What’s Going On at the Recreation Ground?

Fence new 1-8613
The new fencing is slowly being put in place.

Those most affected have been officially notified, so we can now inform everyone of what we intend for the Recreation Ground and its car park. Rumours spread easily when there’s no information, and we’d like everyone to be aware of what we’re trying to do.
As you know, the field is used by Lydbrook Athletic Football Club for matches and by children and others on other occasions. The car park has been used for many years by residents, visitors walking in the forest, parents delivering and collecting children from the local school, customers of local businesses, and church congregations, especially for funerals, christenings, weddings and special celebrations. Without the car park, everyone would be forced to park on the main road, which is very narrow and carries HGVs, and/or on Church Road, which, as a bus route, is also not good for parking.
The District Council received a complaint about use of the car park, and, as a result we were required to apply for planning permission to continue its use. The alternative was to lock the gates and deny use of the facility, causing serious road safety hazards. After the initial application was made difficult by officials at County level, we were advised to use a different approach. We applied for a Certificate of Lawfulness, as the car park has been in continuous use for well over 10 years. That application is currently ‘live’. There’s no intention to use the car park any more than has been the case for decades, we’re simply required to formalise that use.
We’re now replacing the missing fencing with specially made rails to match those already in place up Church Road. The original wall, built in the 1920s when traffic was sparse and a lot slower than today, restricted driver visibility when entering and exiting the site. It was removed for safety reasons. It is now easy for car park users, and those driving along Church Road, to see traffic.

Fence 3-8616
Posts are in place ready for the new panels across the field. There will be a pedestrian gate at one end of the line and a vehicle access gate to allow grass-cutting and other vehicles onto the field when necessary.

We also need to separate the playing field from the parking area to protect it from potential wild boar damage. You’ll all be aware that several local sporting facilities have been ruined by such incursions. Fencing for that has been donated and is being fixed in line with the requirements of Sport England, who oversee the use and protection of playing fields. All this work is being done by unpaid volunteers and will therefore take time to complete. Please bear with us.
Once the above work is done, we want to apply to an organisation that supplies free saplings for planting in public spaces. We hope to place decorative trees at intervals along the slope from the entrance up the hill to the top of the field to enhance the look of the facility for everyone, and to make a contribution to environmental stability. This will affect only the top of the slope, as there’s still an intention to do some work on the area in the hope of providing play facilities for young children. A small committee is currently being formed to investigate how best to achieve this. One of the fundamental issues is the high cost of insurance for both public liability and damage to any equipment installed.

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The new panels match the old ones and will be painted black once all have been installed.

During recent resurfacing of Church Road, we let the contractors use the car park in order to reduce congestion along the main road. In return, we were given some road scrapings to help with the parking surface. This will be spread, again by volunteers, as soon as we have the opportunity.
The wall that curves around the lower end of the Recreation Ground is being reduced in height to give pedestrians and drivers a clear view of traffic, some of which approaches at high speed when rounding the bend. This work is part done, and we’d appreciate practical help from any individual or company with the necessary equipment to complete it. As a charity, we lack funds to pay for such work. All activity is done by volunteers. No doubt the miners and other volunteers who built the wall in the 1920s would be pleased we’re carrying on the tradition of offering the facility to fit modern usage, understanding that traffic has greatly increased and moves much faster than in their day. Clearly, no one wants children, or anyone else using the car park, put in danger because of poor visibility and badly driven vehicles. The old coping stones have been preserved and will be replaced on the remaining wall once it’s been reduced in height.
We can afford the materials but not the wages generally paid for such skilled work. Anyone willing to do this, or any other work, please contact us using the form in the ‘Contact’ tab above, or speak to any Trust Committee member. Your help will be much appreciated. Thank you.
We hope this rather long explanation will inform everyone about our intentions, and our reasons for making the changes. We’re aware rumours have been circulating, and we’re sorry we were unable to provide full information previously; certain issues were undecided until recently. We are trying our best, with limited funds, an aging and small committee, and few volunteers, to improve these valuable facilities for the benefit of all who use them. Your comments, in the space provided below, are most welcome.
Thank you.
A second post will follow shortly, to explain what’s happening with the Hall. Watch this space.

Working on the Wall

Wall long
The length of the wall ready for pointing.

Recently, work’s been done by volunteers to clear the ivy and some of the buddleia from the strip of land behind the wall of the Recreation Ground as it runs beside the main road though the village. The roots of these plants had grown between the stones and they’re threatening to destabilise the wall. We now hope people with the necessary skills will volunteer to re-point the wall where needed. Without this work, the wall, started by willing volunteers in July 1934 and completed about a year later, is in danger of eventual collapse in places. We’d like to stop that happening, and with your help we can. We’ll pay for the materials, but we don’t have funds for the wages generally deserved for such skilled work, so, we need willing volunteers like the folk who originally built the wall. Anyone willing to do this, or any other work, please contact us by email to lydbrookmh(at)yahoo(dot)com, or by using the form in the ‘Contact’ tab above, or by speaking to any of the Trust Committee. Your help will be much appreciated. Thank you.

Wall portion
A portion of the wall, showing some of the wear and tear.

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!

Sanding
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.

Badminton ct
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!

New floor
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.