What’s Going On at the Recreation Ground?

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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.

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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.

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!

Was That a Hot Air Balloon?

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The old balloon inflated.

A few days ago, we had a request for an unusual event on the Recreation Ground. A man wanted to use the space to launch a hot air balloon. Could he? Well, we could see no reason why not, and the Football Club raised no objections to this use of the field.
It was an event entirely dependent on weather. In this case, whether the wind was blowing in the right direction at the time of the proposed launch. Because of this uncertainty, advertising it could easily have left hopeful witnesses disappointed instead of excited, so we said nothing.
Come the day, Thursday, Faith, our trusty booking manager, got word an hour or so before the team arrived. I’d been primed and went down there on spec, camera at the ready.
We saw the vehicle on the main road and were waiting at the gate to guide them in.
‘What a great site for a launch!’ was Thomas Lee’s initial reaction when he stepped out of his car and looked around.
There followed 30 minutes of intense technical activity as the basket was prepared, an older balloon unfolded by Allen Lutz and laid out on the turf. Trainee pilot, Rob Grzesiczek, operated the diesel driven fan to start inflation, and then with help from pilot Thomas, used hot air from the gas cylinders to complete the job.
That first inflation was only for show, so photographs could be taken to help sell the old balloon. It was quickly deflated and packed back in its bag.

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The new balloon is prepared

Next came the new balloon; smart blue nylon spread out over grass and slowly brought to fullness with the fan followed by hot fierce air. Gracefully, the fabric rounded out and floated up to vertical, and everything was ready.
To cheers from the small crowd of onlookers, attracted by the spectacle, buoyancy was briefly tested. And, released from its tether, the floating giant graced grey skies as it ascended over Lydbrook trees and made its way toward the River Severn and its destination, Cam, across the water. An interesting event.

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Up, up, and away!

We made no charge for this first launch, unaware whether the Recreation Ground would suit the purpose, and happy to use this attempt as a test. Now we know it can be done, we’re open to similar events in future.
So, if you’d like to launch your hot air balloon, or undertake any other activity that won’t damage our playing surface, please contact our booking manager, Faith Myers. You’ll find her details under the ‘Bookings’ tab. Or you can email us using the small form under the ‘Contact’ tab, but I must warn you I check that only once a week.
Cost? Well, we’re a committee, democratic and cooperative, so we’ll discuss that at our next monthly meeting, 6th November, and agree a fair price to pass on to prospective users.

By the way, Thomas thinks an item of equipment was inadvertently left behind: a length of rope, about 5 feet in length, with a metal karabiner attached at one end. If anyone has come across this, please let us know – probably easiest to contact Stuart Allison direct by email at stuartkallison(at)gmail(dot)com. Thank you.

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.

Working to Improve the Hall

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Dan Jacobs (foreground) and Anthony Brooke of Elco Property Maintenance applying waterproofing to the roof of the Hall’s bay window.

We like to keep everyone in the picture about what’s happening in the Memorial Hall and on the Recreation Ground.

At present, the bay window on the hall, which has been suffering water leaks for some time, is undergoing repair and renovation work. Rain has been penetrating via cracks in the fabric and this is now being sealed to make the roof watertight. We were eager to get this done during the hot dry spell, to ensure we could seal in dryness, after the heat has removed all internal damp from the structure.

The floor of the hall has been sanded and will be revarnished, with a new Badminton Court laid down. This is due to happen in the next few days. Please be patient while this work is undertaken by volunteers. Thank you.

You’ll all be aware that the Recreation Ground is also undergoing changes. We’ve organised the removal of weeds and brambles on the slope along the Church Road side of the field. Once that’s been cleared (we’re using a contractor to apply safe weedkillers so the brambles can be removed) we’ll endeavour to keep it clear. It would be really wonderful if we could have volunteers to perform a regular strim along those slopes once the brambles have been cleared. Any good-hearted folk with the necessary equipment, time and energy would be welcomed by the Committee. Please contact us using the form on the Contacts page. If you know a Committee member, please feel free to contact them personally to offer any help. Thank you.

The wall, currently under partial demolition, running beside the pavement up the slope from the main road to the car park entrance, is still in the process of removal. This will allow both motorists and pedestrians to enter and leave the car park in more safety, and people will be able to cross the road with better views of oncoming traffic in both directions. This work is being done at no cost to the Trust, and is therefore subject to some delays, as the machinery involved is offered for hire by the company. Clearly, during the good weather, the business involved has to take advantage of paying opportunities. So, please bear with us. The job will be completed, but it will take time.