Great Wolford Village Hall : The Hall That Never Was

In the late 1920's the places in which village affairs were conducted and events held were the School and Church in Great Wolford and the Manor House in Little Wolford. In the early 1930's things changed. At the first Meeting of the Wolford Parochial Church Council in February 1932, as reported in the Parish Magazine, the new Vicar, the Rev Corlett, indicated that the raising of money for a Church Hall was to be considered. Meanwhile, in Little Wolford the first Meeting of the Trustees for the new Village Hall took place on 19th June. 1934 and the Little Wolford Hall was opened by Mrs Warriner in February 1935. (see "The Brief History of the Wolfords Village Hall"). The Little Wolford Village Hall still thrives; no Church or Village Hall was built in Great Wolford! The following is the story of the Great Wolford failure.

THE BEGINNING (1935-1944)
Further relevant fragments were reported in the Parish Magazines. In October 1935 the following was noted "We have received a donation of £5 from 'one of the least', a second gift towards a Church Hall. Now we have £10 for the desirable object." Again, in June 1936 it was reported "that the fund for the Church Hall, which now stands at £10, should be made a live issue in the future by adding to it a percentage of such monies as are raised by special effort, such as jumble sales and fetes." There seem to be no further action taken and no further mention of a Church Hall is recorded.all isHall At the Parish Meetings held in 1943 and 1944, a Village Fund was established. The Trustees were Mr Hawes, Mr W Cox and Miss Luckins. Over £120 had been raised and the first Meeting "favoured the purchase of a "Village Hall" or "Hut" when sufficient funds were in hand to do so."

Yet again, progress was very slow and the next mention in the Parish Meeting Minutes is several years after the war ended in January, 1949 when a Special Meeting was called to discuss the proposal to build a Village Hall. A temporary committee was formed to carry through the formalities necessary to secure official sanction for the project. £300 was to hand invested in Savings Certificates and a Post Office account. The appointed Committee was Mrs Watkins, representing the Mothers Union, Mrs Stevens representing the Womens' Institute, Mrs Hemmings, Jun., Mrs Payne, Mrs Henderson, Mr E Harcourt representing the Cricket Club, Mr Douthwaite, Mr Whittingham, Mr Lucy, Mr H Hawes, Treasurer, Mr Watkins, Secretary and Mr W Shepard representing the Parochial Church Council. The suggestion was put forward that the site should be in Mr Douthwaite's field in the Todenham Road. Mr Douthwaite agreed and a meeting of Messrs Douthwaite, Whittingham and Watkins, on the site, to settle necessary details was arranged. In March, Mr Douthwaite was thanked for offering the Site. Application was to be made to the Shipston RDC as soon as the plan of the site was prepared. The Village Hall at Cherington was deemed, in design and accommodation, to be suitable for Great Wolford. Members of the Committee were asked to seek information about various forms of building material, their suitability, availability and cost. With this information it would be possible to decide the type of building once the site plan was approved. The Rev Corlett, Miss Oakley, Miss Richardson and Mr Henderson were co-opted as additional members of the Committee. In July, Mr Douthwaite and Mr Henderson were elected as Trustees of the Village Hall Fund to replace Miss Luckins, deceased and Mr Cox who had left district. A meeting was to be arranged to discuss and to decide how much of the £350 in the Wolford Village Fund can be used towards a Hall.

In July 1949 the Shipston RDC had rejected the Douthwaite site as a location for the Village Hall. A fresh approach was made to Mr Henderson for land between Mr D Shepard's and Mr Payne's houses but Mr Henderson did not want to part with the land. A further motion was passed that Mr Henderson be asked again and if he still refused then appeal against the Council's refusal of the Douthwaite Site should be made. A vote, however. was against an appeal.

New trustees were required to replace Miss Luckins, deceased, and Mr W Cox, who had left left district. It was uncertain whether Mr Douthwaite had been elected a Trustee in the past. However, it was further felt that it was not within the competence of the Village Hall Committee to appoint trustees to the Fund as the collections were originally not made for a village hall but for village welfare in general. It was, therefore, for the Parish Meeting to decide.

In March 1950, Mr Melville was appointed Village Fund Trustee in place of Mr Douthwaite who was leaving the Village Mr Gibbets has agreed to set aside a small area of land adjoining the Ridgeway for the erection of the proposed village hall and an application for planning permission has been submitted to Shipston RDC. The question of whether the funds held under the heading of "Village Welfare Fund" were to be used specifically for the building of the village hall was held over. At a Special Meeting in June 1950 it was again decided to postpone a decision concerning the use of the collected funds for the village hall as only ten people were present. Planning permission had been obtained for building a village hall on the plot of land along the Ridgeway. The type of building was discussed but no decision made.

In July 1950, it was agreed to use the Village Welfare Fund money (£350) exclusively for the building of the Village Hall. Licences were not being granted for permanent buildings but for temporary buildings only, to be erected by local volunteers. A prefabricated building would cost about £1,300. On this basis the money yet to be found, assuming two different rates of grant, would be:

Total Cost:
Assume Grant of:
Net Cost:
Less in Hand:
To be Collected:

It was resolved that the Secretary secure a quotation for a prefabricated building from Midway Building Supplies and that a Committee of 7. With a quorum of 4, be appointed to decide what extras to the quotation will be necessary to secure completion or to advise on an alternative type of building. The Building Advisory Committee was The Chairman, The Secretary, Messrs Henderson, Young, Lucy, Melville and Whittingham.

In September, the Parish Magazine noted that the Committee had discovered that a pre-cast concrete building would cost £1,000 and that they now favoured this. However, no licence could be obtained for building unless the labour involved was voluntary. It was hoped that the younger folk who were keen to have this Hall would also be "willing to show their keenness in a practical way".

In September 1950 at a Special Village Hall Meeting, the purpose of which was to decide whether a quotation of £535 net for a pre-cast concrete building by Messrs Rowan should be accepted and to secure voluntary workers to erect it, it was reported that, owing to the international situation, no further grants would be given, whether or not volunteers did the work and that no further progress could be made whilst grant aid was withdrawn. Attempts would continue to raise further funds by means of various social activities.

Nothing further is then reported until March 1961 and at a Meeting in June, 1961, as there appeared to be no further interest in a village hall, Mr Watkins put a motion "that Messrs H Hawes, S J Melville & W Henderson, holders of the Great Wolford Village Fund, now amounting to over £500, be asked to sanction the use of this money in favour of the Great Wolford Parish Meeting, the money so vested in the Parish Meeting to be used for the benefit of the people of Great Wolford as a whole as decided at a duly convened meeting or meetings of the Parish Meeting. This was carried after extensive discussion. Possible uses of the money were discussed, but as the Meeting was not representative of the village Mr Henderson proposed that a motion be put on the agenda at the next meeting that some of the money be used for electrifying the Church Clock and to discuss the disposal of the balance."

After yet another lapse, at a Parish Meeting in April 1965, there was a disappointing attendance so decision or discussion on the disposal of Village Fund was impossible. The matter was to be held over to some future meeting when the apparent apathy & lack of interest might be overcome.

In November 1966, the Village Fund was mentioned. Mr Hawes suggested it be used to purchase the School Room when the School closed. Further discussion at some future date was agreed on. Canon Pipe suggested it might be better to hold the money in the Midland Bank Forward Trust.

In January 1967, a joint Meeting of the Trustees and Management Committee of the Little Wolford Village Hall Committee, recorded after much discussion on future development, that "The possibility of interesting Great Wolford in the Hall and its future should be explored."

In July 1968, the disposal of the Parish Fund was discussed but any decision was suspended pending further information about disposal of the school building and to await the time when grants were again available. Mr Potter to replace Mr Hawes, deceased, as trustee of the Parish Fund. Another substantial lapse followed and in September 1974 Mr McDonald had made an extract of reports in the Minutes of meetings from 1943 when the fund was inaugurated and the fund was now in excess of £500. The Parish Council was asked to investigate the matter and the Trustees should be asked to inform the Parish Council of the regulations governing the disposal of the money. The Birmingham College of Art was to be approached to find out what it would cost to repaint the Church Clock.

At a Parochial Church Council Meeting in September, 1974 Mrs Lucy claimed and reminded the PCC that at the last Meeting of the Parish Council it had been suggested that a sum of money belonging to the village should be made available to the Church. Nothing more had been heard about this and Mr Young was asked if he would enquire. By November "it was confirmed that £700 from the Village Hall Fund was to be paid to the Church, but Mrs Henderson asked whether all this money ought to be expended on the Clock and Mr Stevens asked if the Church was ever likely to be closed and was such expenditure warranted. The Vicar said it was impossible to answer this but the Church clock was the Village Clock and would conceivably continue as such even if the Church did ever close. Mr Ward said that some of the Village Hall money could be used for re-pointing the Tower".

In February 1976 "The Trustees of the Village Fund agreed, after considerable deliberation, that the money should be given to the Church and it has now been handed over for the use of the Church. And at a Parochial Church Council Meeting in March, following an enquiry by Mrs Lucy, Mr Ward confirmed that the sum of money promised by the parish council had been paid in, £710.69p (possibly £770.69) in all, which he had banked on the 2nd February 1976".

Finally, in March 1976, at a Parish Meeting, Mr Ward, Treasurer to the Parochial Church Council, said that the money had been received. He reported that the clock was being repainted and that a new electric mechanism had been purchased at a cost of £600 as repairs to the old mechanism would cost £450; the bells had been attended to and quotations for the repairs to the bell tower were being obtained."

So ends the forty year saga of "The Hall that Never Was". £700 in 1975 would be at least £4,000 in today's money! Why is it that the proposed hall never came about? One can only speculate! Was it that the School, whilst it remained, was a perfectly good venue for various village functions? Was it too expensive a project with no substantial backer - remember Lord Redesdale had sold the village in 1920 - who had the means and the inclination to support such a project? Or were the villagers not sufficiently motivated? We shall, perhaps, never know.

Lawrie Thompson