Memorial Hall (The)Building Status: No Longer Exists
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From the Oral History recording of Raymond Eyres
At the beginning of the 1950s land was given by a Mr Chamberlayne, for the erection of a memorial to commemorate the sons of this village who gave their lives in the two world wars; he was a solicitor in Bury (now Gross & Co.). It was decided to build a hall so that villagers could enjoy themselves. A team of volunteers carried out the work, headed by John Knights, a supervisor at the bacon factory, and including Bill Armstrong, Ray Eyres, and others (not forgetting a young lad by the name of Dick Burch…….). It took them the best part of two years to achieve. Read the full story as it was presented in the programme for the opening ceremony.
The walls were made of concrete interlocking blocks requiring no mortar – made by a Capel St Mary firm; roof trusses of steel, boarded on the inside and with corrugated asbestos outside.
In the 1970s a branch library was added at the east side [pictures in gallery below}
There was never a roll of honour mounted within the Memorial Hall itself, though there is one in the church (see below). Ray Eyres is one of the few survivors of the stalwart band who freely gave their time to build the Hall, and whose schoolfriends and playfellows were the fallen soldiers to be remembered thereby; he knew every one of those lost in WW2 and two of his uncles (Charles and Frederick Gould) fell in WW1. He feels very hurt (to put it politely!) that less than 50 years later the Parish Council and the Amenities Association decided to build the Blackbourne Centre and abandon the Memorial Hall.
“It was for a war memorial, I think it’s sacrilege. They should put it back where it belong. The boys that gave their lives deserve a little decency. The hall was stolen from those who gave their time and know-how by a newcomer to the village; the Amenities Association was a creation of this person. Village enterprise and hard work meant nothing. I still believe the annexment by complete strangers to be illegal. I and others gave money for a cause. The plot, a double tennis court, was bequeathed for a purpose (a memorial) by Mr Chamberlayne. No-one will convince me that our memorial hall was in a derelict state. I will allow, work was needed; but never unmaintainable. I have an album of photos showing its building and destruction. Authentic evidence.”
The end of the road
This picture was taken by Raymond Eyres shortly before the hall was demolished in 2002. The new library is visible in the background, and the old library boarded up, to the left of the (by then derelict) hall. [Another Picture]
Those whom the Memorial Hall was built to remember
This roll of honour appears on the south wall of St John’s Church.
Programme for the opening ceremony:
Memorial Hall in a Christmas Past
The Great and the good gathered here in the old Memorial Hall in a Christmas past. The more lavish layout and facilities which say ‘Christmas’ today had not yet arrived after the war… the Spartan tree and simple hand crafted table decorations and a home-made cake are far removed from today’s brash and shiny excess. The steel and canvas chairs (there are still a couple left at Blackbourne) are less forgiving than today’s plush versions. From the left hand corner along the wall we know, sitting consecutively, Mrs Kirkwood, Mr & Mrs Cross, Mrs Bennet, Mrs Pyke and Mrs Hood. Those turning to face us along the front include Mrs Elliston and Bill Armstrong. Standing by the tree is Frank Elliston and coming towards the camera, we recognise Mr & Mrs Sid Baker, George Scase, Fred Cardy, Ted Nicholls, Charlie Goymer, Miss Parr and Albert Scase
Notes on committee members
compiled with the help of David Hawes
Mrs J.MacDonald: Mr. MacDonald’s first wife; they’d been in The Grange for some time. She was keen on horses, and ran a gymkhana & flower show every year on Pye’s Meadow.
O.J.Wyatt: ‘Ozzy’ Wyatt was the local sanitary inspector for the District Council, occupying No.5 Victoria Terrace
W.W.Hawes: owner of the family printing firm in Cooks Road .
F.H. Elliston: Frank Elliston, brother of Billy who was for many years the local postman.
E.J.Knight: Eric Knight, son of John Knight (below); born about 1935, among the first in the village to pass the eleven-plus, he got a good job at ICI, was posted to Slough, and returned here on retirement.
Mr & Mrs G.Cousins: George Cousins was Secretary of the Bacon Factory, a ‘lovely chap’; his wife was Andreasen’s daughter by his first wife.
Mrs R.Hitchcock: Ivy Hitchcock was a leading light of the Elmswell Amateur Dramatic Society
Mr & Mrs J.Knight: Eric’s parents; John was a pillar of local society – member of Oddfellows, led the team building the Memorial Hall etc.
Mrs G.Rawlins: Rawlins lived in Stowe House on Cross Street