The first Memorial Hall was built on The Street, opposite the Methodist Chapel, in 1920. A large army hut was brought to the village from Witham, on a trailer hauled by a traction engine, and this hut provided the basis of the T shaped hall. Many helped with the financing, building maintaining and running of the hall, which served the village very well.
It became clear, however, in the early 1970’s, that the growing size of the village, and the increasing maintenance costs of the existing hall, would soon make it necessary to provide a new one. In October 1973, after public consultation on this issue, the Parish Council was clearly told to go ahead.
The Council spent time assessing needs and studying problems. A site was chosen, which incorporated the old Parkside bungalow, by the existing Recreation Ground. The, on 6th May 1975, the Hatfield Peverel Community Association was created. The Association’s first tasks were to build up a membership and to raise funds. The Brick Bond Scheme was started. This imitative, along with Village Fairs and many sponsored functions arranged by other organisations, provided the basis of growing funds. C.A membership soon topped 1,000!
Government grants for village halls had virtually dried up by 1980. Inflation would soon eat into the value of C.A. money, so the decision was made to pressing on without grants. This meant scrapping existing plans and using the lessons learned to produce a low-cost design for an empty waterproof building shell. All the fitting out – carpentry, concreting, electrics, painting, tiling – was to be carried out by volunteers.
The shell was specially designed so extensions could be added later. Roughly one third of the £65,000 cost was met by the value of the old hall site, one third came from fundraising and one third from a grant from the Parish Council.
The building contract was placed in July 1981, and the first turf was cut by the C.A. Chairman on 15th August 1981. The shell was completed by the end of February 1982. The Parish Council then provided a loan of £15,000 for materials, and the volunteers moved in at once.
The partly completed building was opened by Sir Andrew Lewis, Lord Lieutenant of Essex, of 4th September 1982. A month later the bar and lounge had been fitted out, and the snooker tables brought down from the old hall.
Improvements during 1983/4 included curtains for the stage, an acoustic ceiling for the main hall and an enlargement of the bar counter. The first extension later gave extra storage areas and an enlarged bar cellar.
The Memorial tablet, carefully saved from the old hall, was placed in the front wall of the new hall, and was re-dedicated on 18th September 1985.
In this account we have carefully avoided identifying any of those people who were involved at any time with either Village Hall. We felt it would be wrong to name anyone specifically without including the huge numbers of people who gave their skills, expertise, money and/or time. It was their community spirit which built and ran our Village Halls, and which continues to keep this one going. Huge thanks is due to them all.
(This account is taken from the display board in the Village hall Bar Lounge and
is closely based on an earlier one which was originally on a display board in the village hall in about 1986.)