Wilcot Village Hall has received a grant of £44,800 from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) for an ambitious project to restore and improve the village hall – making it into a lively community centre and a focus for Wilcot’s fascinating village heritage.
The grant has been made to Wilcot Recreation Ground and Village Hall – the charity that runs this historic hall at the heart of the village. The charity was set up in 1924 to preserve the building and green for all villagers.
The hall is at present unsafe. The 1980s suspended ceiling – which has collapsed – will be removed and the older vault restored. There will be better heating and lighting.
The building’s historic fabric – inside and out – has deteriorated, and will be restored. It was built in 1840 as the village school, and old features such as the old school bell will be retained. When the village school closed in 1970 it became the village hall.
The hall will reopen in early 2018. It will then be used as the focus to find, record and keep safe items of village heritage.
Many villagers have memories of the old days and the charity is aware of historic maps and photographs, census records, and books and pamphlets about the village. But these are scattered and neglected.
The project will support the community as it researches, gathers and preserves them so they are accessible and remain so in the future. The hall will be used to present them through displays, films, talks and events and facilities – such as a tablet and a website.
The result will be a historic hall that will once again be a centre serving the whole community – for meetings, activities, classes, parties and play groups. Young and old, new arrivals and people whose families were here generations ago can get together to celebrate their shared past – and future.
Richard Fleet, Chairman of the Village Hall Committee is thrilled to have won support for Wilcot Village Hall: ”Thanks to National Lottery players, we will be able to make the hall once again a vibrant local centre, rich in village history and serving everyone in today’s community.”
Nerys Watts, Head of HLF South West, said: “Thanks to money raised by National Lottery players, we’re delighted to support this project which will see people of all ages celebrate Wilcot Village Hall’s history and secure a bright future for the building at the heart of the community.”