Village Hall History


Old SchoolIn the 1920s any public functions were held in the Vicarage or the School and the idea of constructing a Village Hall must have been discussed frequently. Eventually land on which to build the Hall was purchased in 1927 from James Cottam of Hill Top Farm at Nether Kellet. Just under a thousand square yards cost 40. (A further 800 square yards was bought in 1983 from Lancaster City Council for 120 and further land gifted from the Council in 1998 for the car park of the present project).

OakleaTrustees were appointed under the chairmanship of Charles Garnett, formerly of Hall Garth. The others were Alexander McNeill of Yew Tree Cottage, Thomas Bennett of Shenstone, James and John Green Birkett of Kirk House, William Law of Hill Top Farm and James Pemberton Graham of Oaklea. The Village Hall Committee consisted of 28 people, again with Charles Garnett as Chairman.


Village HallThe Hall was officially opened on April 5th 1929. It was described as a 'plain and useful building of cement and wood'. Ground clearance and foundation work was done by volunteers in the Committee. Robert Holme did the joinery work. The cost was approximately 500, met in part by subscriptions, whist drives, sales of work etc. but there remained a debt of 100.


Village Hall OpeningMrs Burgess of Hall Garth opened the Hall on a very wet day and was reported in the Lancaster Guardian of the day as giving a 'homely' address. Mr Burgess hoped that a tennis court and bowling green could be provided, once the debt had been cleared. The day ended with a dance in the new Hall.

Mr. Burgess' hope that the debt would soon be cleared was not realised. The new building was in financial crisis from its inception. this was, in part, due to the limited use of the Hall, which was in turn caused by the general slump in the 1930s. One event that we know of was the Fancy Dress Ball on New Years Eve, another was the wedding reception that Mrs. Pickles had there in 1932. A concert party from Bentham came and gave performances over several nights and the troupe stayed in different houses in the village.

Drama GroupThings looked up after a branch of the Women's Institute was formed in December 1936. Miss E O Townson was the moving spirit in getting the W.I. launched. Not only did they have a regular monthly booking of the Hall, but also, as a result of applications to the Education Committee, they established evening classes in Country Dancing, Drama, Upholstery and Soft Furnishing.

Over 60 years later there is only one founder member remaining from the original 23 members - Mrs E Stephenson. In those early days the Hall was lit by oil lamps and, with no street lighting, it must have been an eerie Dig For Victoryexperience standing on a chair to put out the last lamp. In later years there was the luxury of a caretaker to fill, light and put out the lamps. During cold weather, members took their own paraffin stoves up to the Hall in the afternoon or early evening, to warm the place. The luxury of electric heating was still in the future (1973). Supper has been described by Miss Townson as the highlight of the evening, people could get out of their chairs and move about to talk to others. Each month there was a Jacob's Join held in one of the smaller rooms.

During World War Two, the cinema came to the village, the Ministry of Information sent vans round the villages to show a mixture of propaganda films to boost morale and films to encourage the War Effort (savings, 'Dig for Victory' etc). It was unsophisticated entertainment but did provide a night out! Also during the war and for some time afterwards, rose hips were gathered for rose hip syrup and the Hall was probably used as a collecting point, also for silver paper.