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Scholes Village Hall

from Barwicker No. 73
Mar. 2004


The official opening of Scholes Village Hall was on Saturday, 17 January 1931, although the planning of this worth-while enterprise began ten years earlier. A group of residents arranged a well-attended public meeting, chaired by Herbert Miers Gray, in the Council Offices, on 22 September 1921, when it was resolved to promote a scheme for a village institute.

Thereafter a succession of public and committee meetings was held, with finance, social and building subcommittees being formed to plan 'The Hut' - later officially called 'The Scholes Institute'. The elected officials comprised:

President - Herbert Miers Gray of Morwick Hall
Chairman - Frederick Kitchen
Secretary - Ernest Boyce.
Treasurer - Samuel Myers.
One committee member was Mr AB Jessop of Morwick Terrace, a retired bank manager and an old resident of Scholes, described as an ardent worker for the church, Hon. Treasurer of Barwick and Scholes Nursing Association and of the Scholes Conservative Association. A local Pepys, he kept a diary for 58 years, a document which could contain much of local interest.

Fundraising was to be by public subscription, applications for loans and grants, and promoting social events such as whist drives and concerts, some held in the Wesleyan Chapel. Enquiries were made with local landowners to find a suitable building site; the field next to the Council Office and land adjoining the church being considered. The land issue was eventually resolved when Betsey Miers Gray agreed to lease the present site on very generous terms. The building subcommittee viewed a potential 'hut-type' structure at Headley Bar, on the site of the first world war aerodrome between Tadcaster and Bramham Crossroads but the cost was too expensive.

Towards the end of 1927, circulars were distributed around the village, with application forms, inviting the public purchase of 5s. shares in the scheme but the result was disappointing. Undeterred, and possibly spurred on by Thorner's Victory Hall having opened on April 1924, a further public meeting was held in January 1928 when those present were entreated to 'act as missionaries to encourage greater public support for the project'.

At a meeting in August 1930, County Alderman Dewhirst quelled concern that the proposed new school (opened May 1932) would compete with the Village Hall in attracting lettings for local social events.

The design plan for the hall, prepared by architect Thomas Neilson of Oaklea Road, Scholes, was presented to the committee in September 1930. It was agreed that the ceiling height be 'sufficient for regular badminton' and that a permanent rather than a temporary stage be provided, suggested dimensions being 8ft. deep, 24ft. wide and 4ft. high. For some time the level of the stage was temporarily raised by a system of chains and pulleys during productions by the Village Players.

Messrs. Hartley's price of 81.4s.0d. for installing the foundations and drainage was accepted, as was FT Wilkinson's offer of 490.0s.0d. for erecting the main building; eleven firms having tendered for the latter work. Gas heating radiators were ordered from Leeds Corporation Gas Dept. and arrangements made with the Yorkshire Electric Company to provide the electricity supply.

The formal Village Hall Trust Deed, signed by 39 of the original trustees, is dated 14 January 1930. This document stipulates that the hereditaments be in the sum of 750, or such larger sum as the committee of management directs; also the committee was to consist of 36 persons. (The above sum presumably reflects the building costs.)

Also included in the deed was a supplemental lease between Betsey Miers Gray and the trustees for a plot of 491 square yards of land at a yearly rental of one shilling, terms which won appreciation from the committee. Miers Gray's solicitors prepared the land-lease documents from the architect' s site plans. The site of the hall was purchased by April 1970 with a new trust deed being prepared.

In October 1930, terms for letting the hall were drawn up:

For the (possible) use as a school by the West Riding County Council, an inclusive annual rental of 100 was to be charged.
General Functions: 2.00 to 5.00pm - a sum of 7s.6d.
6.30pm until midnight - 1.1s.0d. and 5s.0d for every hour after midnight
Main Hall only 6.30 to - 15s.0d.
Small Room. 2.00pm to 5.00pm - 3s.6d.(5s.0d. if using crockery)
6.30 to 11.0pm - 5s.0d.
Badminton 10s.0d.for one night (6.30pm to 10.30pm).
15s.0d. for two nights

Building work began at the end of October 1930, with the anticipated completion in early December, no doubt in time for seasonal functions. There was however, a major set back when on Saturday 22 November 1930, strong winds damaged the unfinished building and lifted off the roof. The 28 November Skyrack newspaper reported that "the gale which sprang so suddenly on Saturday has had the effect of lifting the roof off position and with great speed the contractors had a gang on site (to attend) the slight damage. We are given to understand that very little delay will be experienced in completing the hall. The Hon. Secretary EG Boyce will deal with all applications for letting and enquiries."

John Walker, as a young boy, recalls getting out of bed at his Scholes Hall Farm home, to investigate the storm damage. The remedy of the damage was not as simple and swift as reported. At the end of November 1930, the building subcommittee considered letters from the National Council of Social Services (providers of a loan) and Mr Swaine, an independent architect, regarding the emergency caused by the storm damage.

After due deliberation it was decided that the height of the roof eaves should remain at 15 ft. from ground level. Also eight steel stanchions (four each side) should be obtained from Depledges of Leeds, at a cost of 50, to provide extra structural stability. The steel stanchions were deliberately left uncovered "as they gave visual evidence of the extra stability of the hall".

On resumption of the building work, arrangements were made for the formal opening, including erection of a raised platform to accommodate the many invited dignitaries. The effectiveness of the heating system was tested (given the January date) and 100 extra chairs were hired.

The Hall was officially opened by Sir Edward Brooksbank, Bart., the Chairman of Tadcaster Rural District Council, on Saturday 17 January 1931, the Chairman being Herbert Miers Gray. The auspicious occasion was celebrated with a Grand Concert by the William Sheafield Dramatic Society which presented 'The Mad Hatter's Concert Party' in songs, sketches and comedy interludes.

Barwick would have to wait until September 1972 before opening its Village Hall.

The hall quickly became a social focus of the village, attracting a wide variety of new activities. These included weekly lets by the Elmete, Garforth and Scholes Badminton Clubs (each paying just over 10 a year in 1933). The last-named club which played twice-weekly found the new venue excellent after previously travelling to play in Leeds.

The Rev. E. Cave made twice weekly use of the ante-room for Boy Scouts and Girl Guides meetings; this room also being considered for use as a library. A Supper and Ball at the end of January, by the Barwickians Golf Society, was followed by the first ball of the Barwick and Scholes branch of the British Legion. The first meeting of the Scholes branch of the newly-formed League of Nations Association, chaired by Rector RH Harvey, was held in February, and the Scholes Village Players launched their first production, 'The Importance of Being Ernest' in April 1932. (See 'The Barwicker' No.67.) In May 1931, the National Council of Social Services sought confirmation of the following financial statement;

Total cost of the Hall for the purpose of 'the Fund' 880.
Raised locally in cash towards this : 584
- leaving to be found 296
Loan from the National Council 150
Grant from the Carnegie Trustees 150

Caretakers came and went; the first, Mrs Bramley, followed by Mrs Sirrell, and then two men or women called Noble and Pearson. Pay was 15s.0d. weekly from October to April and 7s.6d. between April and October.

It was resolved in April 1938 to widen the committee structure by inviting the under-mentioned organisations to each nominate a candidate for election to the Village Hall committee. The list below provides a valuable record of village organisations in that period.

Men's Conservative Association
Women's Conservative Assocn.
Scholes Church Council
Scholes Chapel Trust
Scholes Cricket Club
Arthursdale Cricket Club.
Scholes British Legion
Scholes Badminton Club
Scholes Tennis Club
Garth Tennis Club
Scholes Village Players
Boy Scouts and Girl Guides
Scholes Football Club
Scholes Church Men's Club Scholes Women's Institute
Scholes Private Golf
Elmete Badminton Club
Fellowship Club

The onset of war in September 1939 brought changes, such as blacking out of the hall and other air raid precautions. Notices were circulated advising that bookings would continue to be taken. A company of the Home Guard held physical training sessions on Friday and Saturday nights and the Ministry of Information gave a film show in October 1941, the hall at that time having been designated a 'Rest Centre'.

In April 1945, flags, decorations and social events were organised for Victory in Europe Day celebrations and in early June entertainment was provided for the school children with games and refreshments in the hall and sports events on the cricket field. The treasurer was able to report in May that proceeds of 40 from the VE Day functions had cleared the outstanding debt on the hall and provided a small credit balance.

Activities at the hall probably peaked during the 1950s and 1960s with a round of regular events, such as the following;

Village Hall Committee regular Saturday night dances
The long-running Scholes Village Players and Green Room Club.
Scholes Horticultural Society Annual Exhibition
Good Companions Socials.
Scottish Dancing Classes.
Ladies Whist Club.
Leeds District Young Farmers.
Women's Keep Fit.
Parent Teachers.

Notable events include the February 1957 Fancy Dress Ball, with judging by leading members from the cast of 'Cinderella' at the Leeds Empire; first prize being won by Kathleen and Bill Ball of Brooke's shop (now Satnams). In 1964, the Village Hall became a Registered Charity under the Charities Act of 1960.

Scholes Village Hall - Sunday, 26 March 1967.
©Skyviews archives

The Yorkshire Rural Community Council was approached in October 1976 regarding grant aid for a major re-fit of the hall This included provision of a bar (later refurbished), additional toilets, new roof covering, a refurbished sprung floor (comprising either rubber pads or a series of springs) which would be ideal for dancing. A suspended ceiling to reduce heat loss and improve decor, and new central heating and lighting systems, were also proposed. Most of these improvement were undertaken in the 1970s.

The following are brief expenditure details from the years 1933 and 2003.

Total expenditure year ending 31/12/1933 259.18s.1d.
including Gas, Electricity and Water rate 25.11s.4d.
and Insurance 5.15s.10d.
Total 2002 to 2003 Accounts 13,370.21
including Gas, Electric and Water rates 1,686.14
Insurance 1,485.60

Finance is raised by bookings, fund raising and the Annual Summer Gala. the latter contributes approximately one third of the total income. The splendid sum of 4,500 was raised by the June 2003 Gala.

Present day events include dancing sessions, Tae Kwon - Doe (martial arts), Leeds City Pipe Band (which led the June 2003 gala procession) Barwick Flower Club and the popular tea dances, the demand for which cannot be met due to lack of helpers. An innovative and successful 'Smart Dress Summer Ball', held in June 2003, attracted over 100 guests and raised 400.

The environment around the hall has changed dramatically, with Scholes Hall, Scholes Hall Farm and adjoining pasture fields all giving way to sheltered housing, and the high walled kitchen garden now the site of St Philip's Church.

Those residents of the 1920s who planned and built the Village Hall would surely approve of the enhanced standard of facilities available. Quoting the words of the Chairman in the newsletter, "We can be justifiably proud of our Village Hall which provides a superb environment for both activities and work".

Material for this article was generously provided by Linda Samwell (Chairman)


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