Stretton SugwasVillage Hall History and Gallery
In 1933 the New Village Hall Committee obtained a 999-year lease on the land on which the hall is sited from Guys Hospital in London, who owned the estate farms at that time. Our Landlords have changed over the years to include the Prudential and now the Duchy of Cornwall.
The hall was built by Harry Hancock, of Hanwell House, Sugwas Pool, who was a carpenter by trade, KIt consisted of a timber-framed structure with external roughcast render and fibre board lining over a matchboard dado internally. The roof was made of red asbestos slates with matchboard ceiling under rafters. There were felt-covered flat-roofed cloakrooms at each end, with a kitchen on the side - all lined with matchboard. Four Elson toilets were installed, one in each corner, with external vents. There was also a lean-to corrugated Gents' urinal and a corrugated shed for the storage of coke and wood. Water was supplied from a rainwater tank by the kitchen, with a tap over a china sink. It was heated in a brick built copper with coal fire. A cast iron Tortoise stove was used to heat the main hall.
A stage was built with footlights, wings and flies, and a piano was provided, together with wooden chairs, trestle tables and card tables. There were electric lights with pendants with coolie shades in the hall and ceiling sockets in other rooms. There were a few 5 amp sockets.
Storage space was provided under the stage. (The remains of a full-sized snooker table were found on one occasion when the space was cleared out for a fire inspection!)
The left-hand side of the stage front was removable to expose a skittle alley and the bowls were contained with timber bearers laid on the floor and located with pins set in drilled holes. There was a straw-filled mattress to stop the bowls (all the mod-cons of the era!)
The site had a side entrance gate in the road hedge, opposite the entrance door and a pair of wooden paled gates to the entrance. There are still remains of a gate in the present hedge).
The hall started off with the Men's Club, which had billiards, bagatelle, table tennis and card games. There was also air rifle shooting down the right-hand side of the stage. Whist drives and dances to live music were popular.
By the 1940s a wash boiler had been installed to heat the water. In the early 40s the Women's Institute was using the hall, shortly to be followed by the Boy Scouts. A Youth Club was started in the 50s, run by local school teacher Hetty Webb, later to be married as Mrs. Thomas. A considerable amount of money was raised by the Youth Club, who ran Friday whist drives at 1 shilling and 6 pence (7 1/2p in today's money) followed by a dance at 1 shilling to records played by Arthur Edwards of Kings Acre Road, who worked in Currys. [According to Google, £1 in the 50s is worth about £22.50 today, so any mathematicians among you might like to work out whether the whist drives still being run in the hall are good value at £2.50! According to the Telegraph in 2012 at the time of the Diamond Jubilee, £1 would have been the equivalent of 4p in 1952.]
A record player, speakers and new curtains were bought in 1953 and a party was held, all to celebrate the Coronation.
Roughly between 1955 to 1966 Herefordshire County Council hired the hall as an additional classroom. They also paid for the fuel for the stove and for cleaning during this time. When the school left, additional funding had to be found to tidy and update the building, as there was now water and sewer connection available. An Entertainments Committee was formed and the decision made to install 4 flush toilets with wash basins and water to the sink, to re-form the stage and put in a false ceiling at roof purlin level with insulation over. Complete re-wiring with fluorescent lighting was also undertaken. The old stove was removed and a warm air oil-fired boiler installed. T. J. Reads of Kings Acre Road excavated the trench for drains and water free of charge and the trench was back-filled by the Quarry, again free of charge. The installation of pipes, manholes, toilets, ceiling and heater installation were all carried out by parishioners.
The Entertainments Committee was then able to start operating, with Old Tyme dancing on Mondays, Bingo on Tuesdays, and whist drives and dances - all well attended. Old Tyme dancing continued for many years until the early 2000s and provided a considerable amount of money towards the running of the hall, thanks to the efforts of Mr. David Jones, who ran the dances with his wife. The maple dance floor was paid for by grant and the dancers.
Although various improvements continued to be made to the hall over the years, there was a gradual decline in usage of the hall and around 2013 the Village Hall Management Committee canvassed parishioners to find out what they wanted from their village hall. Response to Questionnaires showed a major need to bring the hall up to modern-day standards, especially with regard to cloakroom facilities and heating. After several failed attempts to obtain smaller grants, it was decided to apply for a Big Lottery Fund Reaching Communities Building Grant for total refurbishment of the hall. This consisted of three stages, at the end of which in November 2016, after more than 2 1/2 years dedicated effort on the part of the Management Committee, a grant was awarded for the full sum. Work started in March 2017 with Jamieson Associates as the architects and Owen Pell as the contractors. It was completed on Schedule and the hall re-opened at the beginning of September, with an official opening on the 30th September attended by Dave Curtis, representative of the Duchy of Cornwall, the hall's present landlords.
Use of the hall has changed over the years, as have people's lifestyles. However, the hall continues to provide a focal point for the village, especially now that it has lost its shop/post office and two pubs. Present regular events include weekly exercise, meditation and yoga classes, table tennis, a monthly Lunch Club and monthly Coffee Morning, and last but not least, the monthly Whist Drive, which must be our longest running event and continues under the auspices of, among others, Mrs. Hilda Davies, who is the longest serving member of the Village Hall Management Committee with over 40 years to her credit.
Not only is the hall an ideal venue for social events, it is also well suited to business/charitable use for organisations, either in the main hall which has facilities to cater for 100 people, or in the meeting room for smaller gatherings of approximately 15 people.
Our thanks go to Colin Davies for the earlier information on the hall, who also served on the Committee for several years, as his wife, Hilda, continues to do.
Thanks also to the present Committee for all their hard work, especially to John Robinson (Chair) and Terry Williams throughout the refurbishment programme, and to Val Javens (since left), without whose dedication and expertise in submitting the three stages of our Lottery application we would never have got past the starting post.
We hope this potted history of the hall has been of interest and, if there any other older residents out there with memories to add, please get in touch via the contact form below or email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Stretton Sugwas Village Hall has been run by volunteers since its start in 1933 and it continues to be so. If you would like to help, however little or much, please let us know.
Below are just a few pictures taken of and in the hall over a period of time to illustrate the, the "Before and After!. Unfortunately, "Before" only goes back a couple or so years, so if anyone has photos of any events held in the hall over previous years, we would be very pleased to see them.
Just click on any of the pictures to see them in greater detail.