Jubilee Hall

NEW-The full story of the events that led up to the emergency renovation of the Jubilee Hall during the period 2004-2007, and the work that was involved.

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Everyone in Winsham is familiar with the Jubilee Hall. At the centre of the village, it has been the setting for innumerable meetings and performances. There are few who have not attended a village pantomime, play or concert; a wide range of age groups from Brownies to Over Sixties have pursued their activities here in the Jubilee Hall, most having sung or danced, painted or exercised, celebrated a family occasion or at public meetings, argued and discussed. It was used as a centre for the war efforts in two World Wars-for recruitment, an 'overflow school for evacuees' and lots of other purposes. It is a Polling Centre for national and local elections. There is very little that happens in the village community in which the Jubilee Hall does not play some part.

If you look across Church Street at the Hall you can clearly see the dates 1837 and 1887, which commemorates the building of the Hall in the year of Queen Victoria's Golden Jubilee. Inside the dates are repeated either side of the main window in red and gold. Lord Bridport of Cricket St Thomas built the Hall for the benefit of the village, both as a meeting place and for educational purposes: it was referred to as a reading room. Winsham Parish Council have used the building since it was formed in1894, and on December 13, 2014 , the parish celebrated the 120th Anniversary of its first meeting, to the day, with a dinner, a play based on the history of the Parish Council, written and produced by Stella Abbey, which was followed by community singing led by Tony Meech. A record of this event can be seen by clicking HERE.

The Parish Council have used the Jubilee Hall for its meetings since 1894, and also, for many years, was responsible for its upkeep. If you visit the gallery of this web museum devoted to the history of the Parish Council many references will be found to problems of management and up-keep. The cost of maintaining the fabric and facilities were always burdensome to the Parish Council, and it was the need to raise some 6,000 to install a heating system that made it necessary, under the terms of a grant from the Glubenkian Foundation, for the Parish Council to apply for charitable status for the hall. In 1965 it became a Charity, administered by a management committee, elected from village organisations and by parish residents. A member of the Parish Council continues to sit on the management committee as a Representative member. For many years, between the two world wars, within the memory of older people in the village the highlight of the week was the "sixpenny hop" on Saturday nights.
These were even more eagerly attended during the Second World War when American soldiers from the temporary camp at Cricket St.Thomas came along. Flirtations, on the part of the girls and fights, started by the anxious local lads, were a common occurrence. During this period, on weekdays the Jubilee Hall was also used as an 'overflow' school room, made necessary by the influx of children evacuated from the cities.

 

The need for on-going maintenance and improvement
The gift of the Jubilee Hall to the village was a generous one, and undoubtedly fulfilled a real need. It was also to prove an on-going financial burden on such a small community. It has been necessary to upgrade the hall from time to time to meet changing needs, standards and increasingly rigorous Health & Safety requirements. A major refurbishment was carried out in the 1930s, paid for by the Hall family at Cricket St. Thomas. The decorative 'bell-tower' was removed in the 1950s, as it was the cause of damp damaging the roof timbers. Central Heating was installed in the early 1960s.

To meet new safety regulations, plastic chairs, curtains in fire resistant materials, Exit signs and circuit breakers were introduced in the 1980s. In 1989 part of the chimney fell down in a hurricane (damaging the then playgroup leader's car) so the distinctive chimney was shortened.
The main achievement of the very active Management Committee of the 1980s was the building of the new Committee Room and kitchen. Only by looking at the flint south wall of the Committee Room, which was the original outside wall, can one remember that the Committee Room was not always there. The Hall was also improved by the introduction of large stage curtains, and a modular stage, now replaced by an even better one. The main hall window had to be replaced in the late 1990s. All this work required vigorous fund raising activity to meet the substantial costs involved.

2004-Jubilee Hall faces closure
Worried by what seemed a never-ending flow of incidents requiring relatively small expenditures on repairs to various parts of the fabric of the hall, especially to the floor in the main hall, the Committee asked Rod Wells, a Chartered Surveyor and husband of Sandy Wells, the Hall's Booking Secretary, to conduct a full structural survey, which, with the help of Keith Portsmore, another surveyor who lived in the village, was done without charge.
The results of this investigation were devastating. Serious and on-going rot in the floor support timbers would make the hall unsafe to to use within a year or so. There were also serious situations developing in respect of rot caused by a leaking roof at the back of the hall. This and a whole catalogue of more minor but significant problems added up to the greatest problem to the future of the hall since its construction in
1887. An estimated figure of 80,000 was given as the minimum needed to solve the problems. The Hall held reserves of some 5,000!  The final expenditure, over the next ten years was to reach nearly 120,000.
After consultations with the Parish Council, the Community Council for Somerset, various opinion leaders in the village and a Public Meeting, where all the options were considered, including the possibility of building a new village hall on some undefined site, it was agreed that an attempt should be made to raise the money through grants and local fund raising.

This was was successfully achieved as a result of a wonderful community effort led by a very active Jubilee Hall Management Committee. Grants were obtained from South Somerset District Council, Defra, Awards for All, Wyvern Waste Management,  and a number of other smaller grant providers. The Parish Council gave 15,000,which was raised on the precept. Local people were also very generous with time and money, and this, with local fund raising efforts raised some 30,000. In about eighteen months sufficient money had been raised to commence work. The Hall closed at the end of June 2006 and reopened in January 2007.The transformation was remarkable. The opportunity had been taken to totally update the hall's facilities and appearance .
The detail of the work  included a new oak floor and supporting structure, major repairs to various roofing areas, improved heat insulation, refurbished rain ware, an updated heating system, modernised toilet facilities, three-phase electrical supply, Broadband, PA system with loop for those who are hard of hearing, and full compliance with disabled access requirements. Imaginative use of colour in decorating, new curtains and seating completed the metamorphosis into a twenty first century facility, without the hall losing the charm of its late Victorian origin.
Most of the work was carried out by businesses or tradesmen living in, or associated with the village, which in no small way accounted for the quality of the work and the high value obtained from the expenditure.


The refurbished Jubilee Hall-2007

In response to the efforts of the community the Hall Committee was determined that the hall would not cost the people of Winsham any more to hire, in real terms, than it did previously, a promise that - to date - they have been able to keep (2009).

 

FUND RAISING
The Jubilee Hall financial situation is a constant struggle for the Management Committee. In the second decade of the 21st century, any building that dates from 1887 is liable to have some problems, and despite the major renovation in 2006 there are always tasks remaining to be done.
A vigorous fund raising policy, linked to occasional applications to 'Awards for All', has achieved a great deal. Click HERE to see examples of the event-linked fund raising efforts sponsored by the hall.
In addition the Jubilee Hall lottery makes a regular contribution to funds.
Jubilee Hall Lottery
The Jubilee Hall Lottery was started in the 1980s by Janet Smart, as part of a fund raising initiative to support the  building of an extension to the Jubilee Hall, to accommodate a committee room and a kitchen. There was a draw each month for three small cash prizes. Participation cost 5pa.
In 2006, the idea was developed. Ticket price was increased to 10 and their sale was heavily promoted within the parish. The prize structure was also revised to make winning more worthwhile, and a special prize was added to the December draw.
It was also possible to buy the tickets 'over the counter' at Winsham Shop and Post Office, which also helped in the Lottery's growth in popularity. It now raises the significant sum of some 700 pa.(2016)

2016-Update

At the time of the major renovation in 2006 it was always accepted that this could only be regarded as Phase 1 of the work that was needed to make the hall suitable for the standards required for the 21st century. Phase 2 was always regarded as replacement of the main windows at the front of the building. The largest window was suffering from serious rot in the wooden frame. Furthermore the glazing was of plain glass, with poor insulation qualities. With the rapid escalation in the cost of fuel oil, and the related concerns with the carbon pollution associated with its use, the need for double glazing was becoming essential if the use of fuel oil was to be minimised. This window was replaced in October 2014 at a cost of some 3,500, funded form Jubilee Hall's financial reserves. The other three windows were replaced at the beginning of 2016 at a cost of 9,000, funded by Awards for All. In addition during the nine years since 2006, major work was done on the plumbing system, a boundary wall was rebuilt, a patio was laid in the garden area, and a modern digital piano was purchased ,to replace an aging and expensive to maintain conventional instrument. An improved digital projector system was also installed, affording greatly improved  ease of use. The high cost of installation was greatly reduced by the work done by Keith Fowler, helped by his son Jordan, on a voluntary basis. The hall also subscribes to a public access broadband service, an essential facility.

Keith Fowler also under takes the annual legal requirement to test all of the Jubilee Hall's portable electrical appliances, saving a considerable annual expenditure.
New Windows
The appearance of the Jubilee Hall was transformed at the beginning of 2016. The main central window underwent extensive renovation in 2014, which included the fitting of high efficiency double glazing . In 2016,  the remaining three lower level windows were replaced, in wood , with the same type of glazing. The two windows replaced, either side of the main window, were utilitarian Crittall windows, fitted, it is believed in the 1950s. The small window to the right of the main door was fitted in the 1920s. It is believed that the Hall now closely resembles how the hall looked at the time of building. However, the main purpose of this work was to conserve heat, reduce solar gain in the summer, and generally improve  the level of comfort for hall users.
The work cost some 12,500 in total.

The Hall also became the home of the Parish Office in early 2015, letting out on a long term basis the smallest its  meeting rooms. The space could be ill afforded, but in view of the importance of the facility to the Parish Council, it was felt that it was in the communities best interests to help in this respect,  as no other premises were available.

On December 28th 2015,  Phil Kershaw died. Phil had been the Hon. Treasurer of the Jubilee Hall since 1999, and had played a major role in the fund raising   for the 2006 renovation and the subsequent financial management of the work. He continued to be actively involved in the financial affairs of the hall until his untimely death at age 80. He is greatly missed.

For more information, including Annual Parish Reports and Accounts since 2004, Minutes of Management Committee meetings, and much more, click on the link below.

Jubilee Hall on Winsham Parish Web site 

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This page revised 03 February 2017