The Jubilee Hall


New Windows

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,   and a wide range of age groups from Brownies to Over Sixties have pursued their activities here in the Jubilee Hall. Many have 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.
The role of the Parish Council
The Winsham Parish Council, from the date of its first meeting, on the 13th December 1894 has held its regular meetings in the hall, and on December 13, 2014 , the parish celebrated the 120th Anniversary of this meeting, to the day, with a dinner, a play based on the history of the Parish Council, written and produced by Stella Abbey, followed by community singing led by Tony Meech. A record of this event can be seen by clicking HERE. The Parish Council also maintains a small office in the building.

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 of the hall. 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.
An important social centre
For many years, between the two world wars, within the memory of older people in the village, t
he 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. But after its full ownership was transferred to the village in 1904, from the heirs of the 1st Viscount Bridport, its maintenance 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 was to reach nearly 113,000.
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

To view the full account of the major renovation, and the events leading up to it, that took place between 2003-2007-CLICK HERE

The years that followed : 2007-2019
In the  years that followed the re-opening of the refurbished Jubilee Hall, work continued . The major project, was the replacement of the main windows at the front of the hall. There were many reasons for doing this. The main window was suffering from severe rot, and such a large area of glass was causing problems with heat loss during the winter months and over-heating of the main hall through solar gain in the summer months. The complex shape of the window meant that a bespoke solution was the only practical approach. The hall's location in a village designated as a conservation area also meant that planning approval was required. This work was carried out, with great skill and ingenuity by a local craftsman, Jamie Orr-Ewing.
The work on the main window was completed in 2014, and the remaining windows , which involved the replacement of the old Critall metal framed windows, installed, it is believed in the 1950s, was carried out in 2016.
In replacing the Critall windows, in addition to the practical reasons mentioned above, and improved ventilation, the replacement wooden-framed windows were made in the style of the original windows which were installed when the hall was built in 1887.As with the main window, planning approval was required before the work could begin.

This was followed by  a major task on the emergency exit door which was no longer fitting or operating properly.

In 2019, work was done to overcome a major damp problem in  the rear of the hall, adjacent to the men's toilets.
The total cost of this work during the period from 2007-2019 came to just a little over 23,000, which also included the provision of a high quality digital keyboard, and a more modern digital projector for the main hall, with the associated complex wiring. The installation of the projector and the wiring was done on a voluntary basis by Keith Fowler, helped by his son, Jordan.
During this period, another Winsham craftsman, Dan Anderson, a stone mason with great skill in letter carving, produced a new stone name tablet for the hall, along with  access instructions for disabled visitors, also in stone.
All the funding for the above came from a combination of local fund raising by the Jubilee Hall Management Committee, together with grants from 'Awards for All', a part of  the National Lottery organisation.
During this period  the hall also suffered a series of set-backs, which included a major flooding incident due to the failure of a plumbing component, and a damp induced collapse of the plastering of a party wall. These all caused short term  disruption in the hall's availability,  with the cost of repair being met by insurance claims. A boundary wall also partially collapsed and was subsequently rebuilt.

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. In 2018/9 the number of tickets sold reached 200, providing additional revenue of some 1400.

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.

For a detailed account of the work  that resulted in the re-opening of the Jubilee Hall in January 2007,CLICK HERE

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.

JSS -Sept 2019

Jubilee Hall on Winsham Parish Web site 


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This page revised 25 September 2019