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The History of Kempshott Village Hall



The History of Kempshott Village Hall 1930s – 1990s

 

 With grateful thanks to  Chris Parker of the Kempshott Village Hall Trust for much material from the KVH archives




The history of Kempshott Village Hall is almost as long as the history of Kempshott as a community.

 

Phase 1 -1930s

In the inter-war period, when the community grew out of the redevelopment of  the Down Grange and Crossways farm land, the ‘focus’ of the community, such as there was, lay in Pack Lane where the first shops, post office and telephone were located. In the later 30s the need for somewhere to gather was agreed and a small wooden building was adapted to that use.

 

Phase 2 -1940s - 50s

The Second World War put any further plans on hold – but after 1945 a Village Centre was needed even as the community continued to grow. The second structure inaugurated in 1949 is a story of local initiative and ingenuity.

 

Phase 3 -1960s -

The expansion of Basingstoke in the 60s brought large scale planned development to Kempshott, and in consequence a planned redevelopment and expansion of the village hall. Since 1980 Kempshott has continued to add houses and residents - there are now over 6000 residents in over 2800 households in the ward and the village hall has responded to the greater and different challenges to this day.

 

In the beginning ….was the chicken shed!

In the 1920s the only meeting place for Kempshott residents was the old Wesleyan chapel – the ‘tin tabernacle’ which is preserved as part of the Methodist Church on Kempshott Lane and dates from 1912.

The 1930s maps show a series of chicken sheds along Buckskin Lane and Pack Lane and two other small buildings which are assumed to be the incubator sheds located behind what was to become the present Pack Lane shops.

An ex-incubator shed was used for small gatherings - lit, it is understood, by candles and heated by oil.

A youth club was formed and it is thought the Boy Scouts met there. Mr Green show his 8mm films there before the war.

 

But better things were needed, it was agreed, and just before the outbreak of war in 1939 a scheme for a new village hall was proposed with Mr Sidney Lawes as first Treasurer and Mrs. Baggs and Mrs. Smith organizing fundraising with many whist drives and events and a 1shilling per week donation scheme. Mr Attwood tells us that £150 was raised before war interrupted proceedings.

 

During the war years the existing building was reinforced and used as an Air Raid Shelter and Fire Watcher’s Post.

We have no picture of this old shed unfortunately.

 

The following composite diagram based on Pack Lane in the 1930s with part of a 1940s map superimposed to show the  bungalows built on Buckskin Lane immediately post war, illustrates the origins of the oddly shaped piece of land acquired for the village hall and playing field.


                                                                                

Fig 1 Site of first purpose built village hall from composite of 1930s and 1940s maps

-  showing the 1930s chicken sheds which by the 1940s had given way to bungalows.

The highlighted area is the 3 a. field which was to become the Village Hall and Playing field. The land to the east was still farmland until the 1960s.


Who owned the land on which the village hall was built?

The land west of the vertical red line on the map was part of the Crossways development and had originally been owned by Pembroke College, Oxford. The Crossways estate land had been purchased by Homesteads Ltd (who were the developers of the new Kempshott Village scheme after WW1) this section of the estate was purchased, we think, with a mortgage by Mr Wm T J Culver in 1925.


 
 




The land that finally made up the KVH plot was a combination of several pieces of land from the original plots 96 - 98 and 85 - 89   of the Crossways Estate Development plan 1925 - 27.



Post war … the phoenix rises …


On VE Day 8th May 1945 the Village Hall scheme was resurrected (Kempshott residents didn’t let the grass grow under their feet), and fund raising began again.

It was decided to hold a children’s fete that very Whit Monday May 21st, with a procession from Five Ways to the field by the Methodist church, and a tidy sum was collected.

 

Plans to build a village hall proceeded but by early 1947 were suspended as the cost was considered prohibitive.

However, Mr. George Smith of Battle Down Farm, who was chairman of the Village Hall Committee at that point, was not to be defeated. He suggested that the old Oakley Church Hall (or Reading Room) could be purchased and moved to Kempshott. Mrs. Baggs has said that the Oakley Hall was 60 years old at that point and was to serve Kempshott for a further 20 years.


The building was purchased and re-erected under the direction of Mr Felgate the architect

for £361 with Mr Smith’s tractor and trailer doing much of the moving of sections of the building to the new site. Work started in summer 1947 after the land had been purchased for £278 by the village hall trustees from Mr C E Cobb and a further £90 was to be spent on furniture. The village raised in total £730 – the equivalent of £27,000 today.

That princely sum of £278 purchased 3 acres of land which is still held in trust for the community of Kempshott – the Village Hall and Playing Field.

The list of original trustees exists and includes Messrs. Cobb, Culver, Garrett and E. Beavers. Stratton Park was still the arable fields of Buckskin farm in the 1950s.


Fig 3 Kempshott Village Hall 1949

Note the bench seat looking across the field towards Fiveways, the hedgerow leading down to Buckskin Lane and Buckskin Farm – with farm buildings or houses in the distance. The extensions are toilets.


Where exactly was the hall located? It is identified on the 1967 large scale Ordnance Survey map as ‘Residents Association Hall’.



Fig 4 Location of the Residents Association Hall


Work on the Hall was completed for the first AGM of the Village Hall Trust to be held here on 5th April 1949

 

The hall held about 50 people. A lot of local wedding receptions were held there – including that of Owen and Edna Blissett in 1955.

The hall was much used, with 10 community groups regularly meeting there in the week, among them the WI. Ted Green continued to show his films.

There were swings near the village hall – they do not appear in the photo, are they in the field beside the hedge?


 
 





Fig 5 & 6. The official opening of the hall in 1949 was by the Mayor - we think Cllr. Cyril Wood  -  with Carol Downham presenting a bouquet to the Lady Mayoress Mrs. Wood.


Meanwhile post war Kempshott continued to grow.....as did Basingstoke


1950s and early 60s

Coronation Celebrations - June 2nd 1953

Clearly there were great celebrations for the coronation - which coincided with Summer Fete time - with a Carnival Queen and her attendants. There was a Fancy Dress competition and children's races among other things.

 









Fig 7.  Barry Brazier and Jean Blackburn .............. Carol Downham and Valerie Watmore.

Races in the field of the Village Hall.


The Coronation Tree was planted - which stands in the KVH car park - we have no picture of the planting ceremony unfortunately – although one is supposed to exist.




 
 







Fig 8. Clearly this is the carnival Queen, but it is not clear whether she was Kempshott Queen or Basingstoke Queen: Susan Birkett and her attendants Jean Blackburn, Sylvia Parsons, Valerie Watmore and Susan Smith
 
 







Fig 9. Here are Richard and Carol Downham in the Fancy Dress Parade.
 
 






Fig 10. 1957. Kempshott's Carnival Float - on the theme of Kempshott Toy Fair.
The young lady in the box is Hillary Jordy.




Modern times and modern designs…

By the early 1960s Kempshott was now undeniably a part of Basingstoke and about to expand hugely with the birds and flowers estates. It had outgrown its old make do and mend village hall - a brand new building – suitable for a modern suburb - was required!


Fig 11. Artist's impression of the planned Village Hall

Something to accommodate 180 people with a range of facilities and six times larger than the old hall was planned.

 

The fund raising 60s.

Just as now, raising the funds for a major development involved a relatively small number of people spending an enormous amount of time and energy organizing fund raising schemes. So who were the Village Hall Committee in the early 60s?

 

Three names stand out - Mr J Parnell Jordy – Chairman, Mr W P Bond – Treasurer and Mr A Cory – Secretary

Early proposals in 1964 envisioned a £10,00 total cost with the village finding £3,00 of that. While fundraising gathered pace in 1965 and ‘66 the total cost rose through £14,000 to £20,000.  By early 1966 the village had raised £1,000.

When building began in early 1968 the village had raised £2,500, local government had contributes nearly £14,000 and there was £3,500 still to be found when the building was opened in November 1968.

 

In today’s money values that is a cost of £325,000 of which the village raised over £4,000 in 5 years.



 
 








Fig 12. Mr. Bond - Mr. Parnell Jordy, Mr. A. Cory on the right and Mr. Millard?

Who is the lady?


Milestones and crises along the way

 

Major fund raising events were organized each year by the Entertainments Committee

 

-          in winter the Guy Fawkes Night bonfire and Firework Display

from 1964 to ‘66 These were large and expensive events with £500 worth of fireworks used for static tableaux and  spectacular displays with entrance tickets at 2s. 6p each.

The Boy Scouts manned the barbeque and the WI served tea.

 

-          in summer the Summer Fete with competitions, prizes, the Basingstoke Carnival Queen and Mayoral party in attendance, finished off with a ‘beat band’ performance.

 

-          dances, which were always a sell-out.

 

Meanwhile users of the hall continued to hold fundraising events - a jumble sale here, a tea party there … every little helped.


The great bonfire calamity - November 1964


On the Wednesday evening, the day before the big event, saboteurs set fire to the bonfire which, already soaked with paraffin and including old tyres, went up in a sheet of flame. The fire brigade could do nothing too stop it turning to a pile of ash. But were the committee defeated - not a bit! Calling in every contact they had the bonfire was rebuilt in 6 hours and the event went ahead as scheduled with the Mayor and the Mayoress lighting the fire with grandchildren Lee and Lita Ford.



Fig 13.





Fig 14.                                                                                          Fig 15.

Quote from an angry Mr Jordy: ‘If I could get hold of the blokes responsible I would bring back the whip. But we are not finished. Another bonfire will be built in time for tonight. The whole thing will go on as planned.’ And it did. £100 was raised for the Hall (about £1,800 in today’s values).

In 1965 the committee had better luck..

A bigger and better November event was planned with 1000 tickets available for the Guy Fawkes festivities. All went to plan with the bonfire built on the day and lit by the Mayor Cllr D J Wheale, the Lady Mayoress and the Carnival Queen Miss Rosemaria Janosciewicz. This year the event featured a 7ft image of a guy on top of the bonfire constructed by 8 year old Master Simon Jordy; and was followed by a Christmas Fair and sessions of bingo. 

 









Fig 16. The big draw was Miss Joan Sims who processed round the town in a Rolls Royce with the Mayoral party and lit the bonfire in War Memorial Park built by the Round Tablers. 


Despite the 2500 attendance only about £100 was added to the Hall fund. 

Then there was the children’s Christmas tea party and the carol festival.



Fig 17.


The Summer Grand Fete was a major event of each year in May, as now.

 








Fig 18. In 1965 Cllr Tom Baptist opened the fete Carnival Queen Julie Hall giving out the prizes.



Fig 19.

The great draw to the 1965 Fete was The Car Competition – the prize being a green Triumph 1200. 2000 people attended to sample displays, refreshments and competitions. Huge effort and originality went into the children’s fancy dress competition which was comprehensively written up by the Gazette.
There was Punch and Judy, pony rides, smashing up an old banger with a sledge hammer… 

Does anyone remember ‘The Nomads’ beat group? 

Everyone entered into the spirit of the day …and we can see why Tom won the knobbly knees competition! 

But the biggest excitement was the competition to win a new car… provided by Wheeler & Ayland, Mr Ayland being a local man who often helped with fund raising. ‘How many miles from Market Square to Land’s End and back?’ was the question - the answer was 600miles, 200 yards, 8inches. 

The winner was Mr A K A Moore of High Drive.

 Fig 20.                                                  Fig 21.


The event raise just under £600 – over £10,000 in today’s money values.


7th May 1966 Summer Fete

Again opened by the Mayor, Cllr. D. J. Wheale, this year’s Fete included a display by the newly formed Pegasus Judo Club

Fig 22.


While the image of the Hall is going strong … the car seems to be a fading memory….

 








Fig 23. Junior Carnival Queen Janet Padwick (riding) and her five attendants.

Finally, building started in March 1968 and was completed on schedule by the November - for the official opening in December 1968 by the Mayor & Mayoress Cllr & Mrs. J Balding......

 







Fig 25.  ........seen here congratulating Messrs. Parnell Jordy, Cory and Millard, the committee who had seen the project through to completion.

Kempshott Village Hall - the third generation….

Fig26. This picture shows the hall as it is now - after several extensions in the 70s, 80s and 90s.


Are there any pictures of the original core building?

We only have a pen and ink sketch:

Fig 27.

Fig 28.

With its opening in 1968 the village hall did not stand still – it has been expanded and internally reorganized every decade since then.   Each time that meant more fund raising initiatives.


The Village Hall – Mark 2 the 1970s


The 1970s extension of the Hall, planned, funded and executed 1975-78 saw the north wing added which was operated as a bar by the Village Hall committee before the Social Club was formed. The south wing was slightly remodelled and continued as the second hall.


Fig 29.


Continued expansion of the hall and its facilities in the 80s

 In the early 1980s the Village Hall published an occasional newsletter and the tried and tested fundraising projects of Firework Displays and Summer Fetes were in full swing for a major expansion of the Hall complex which was completed by 1987.

 Councillor Harold Allerston was the driving force as chair of the Village Hall committee at this time. The Village Hall Trust took out a £40k loan which financed part of the expansion.

The 1982 Firework Display seems to have been a spectacular event involving 6 sets of static and rotating montages and 3 aerial displays.

  

Fig 30.                                                                       Fig 31.


The Hall was designed with a stage right from the beginning and has seen many amateur theatrical performances and concerts.
The Kempshott Women’s Institute presented Cinderella for example, an entertainment devised and produced by Sylvia J Phillis with piano accompaniment by Elizabeth Foulser and Georgina Palmer and the dances devised and taught by Sheila Smith.

Can we identify any of the cast listed on the programme?



Fig 32.


So what went on in the Village Hall?


Apart from the Social Club with its licensed bar , which operated Tuesday, Wednesday & Thursday evenings and from noon on Saturdays and Sundays. 

the Morning and Afternoon Play Groups virtually every weekday and the Child Health Clinic on Tuesday mornings and Friday afternoons there were at least 13 other weekly activities –


Over 60s Club      Soccer Team      Women’s Institute        Ladies Evening Club 

Badminton Club   Modelling Club    Country Dancing          Mums & Toddlers 

Twins Club           Kempshott Kestrel Majorettes         Ladies Keep Fit

Diana School of Dancing                   Hall School of Dancing


Village Hall – Mark 3 1980s

This major extension of the Social Club facilities included creation of a cellar as the ground level naturally slopes down to the west. The south wing was significantly altered with the creation of the facilities for a Pre-school nursery which also uses the second hall during nursery hours.

This western extension has a pitched roof – unlike most of the hall building.


Fig 33.

Village Hall Mark 4 – 1990s

The 1999 extension was less dramatic, with remodelling of the east side of the hall under a pitched roof, the porch over the entrance and the disabled toilets. Again this involved the Hall committee finding 25% of the cost and the borough /central government providing the remainder. It was in the publicity for this enlargement of the Hall that Mr Arthur Attwood wrote a splendid article in the Basingstoke Gazette outlining the long history of the Kempshott area from Iron Age to Modern Age.

You will recall Mrs. Baggs was a major contributor to the post war development of the Hall. In 1999 Mrs. Baggs did the honours of opening the latest upgrade to the building - the front porch – at the glorious age of 103!

Fig 34.


What goes on at the Village Hall in the 2010s?

Fig 35. Chris Parker was a prime mover in this upgrade including presenting the bid for funding to the borough council.

Chris receives a grant award certificate from Mayor Derek Mirfin, on completion of the project with a just as youthful looking June Balcombe of the borough staff looking on…


Apart from Noah’s Ark pre-school Monday to Friday 9.00am – 3.00pm and the Social Club on Thursdays to Sundays There is something going on every day and evening of the week.

 

Kempshott WI        Basingstoke Horticultural Society         Baby Sensory Weight Watchers UK      

Kaderosi Art Club         Country Dancers Pilates    2nd Kempshott Guides           Puppy & Dog Training

Keep Fit for Senior Citizens                           2by2 Mums & Toddlers Group

TC Xercise      Hampshire Assoc. for Care of the Blind         Martial Arts Society for All Artists                

Kempshott Christian Fellowship

and the occasional users such as … the Catfish Society, The Crysanth & Dahlia Club, The Chess Club etc.


And of course yours truly…Kempshott History Group.



And finally ….   What of the future?
One thing is guaranteed … the hall will keep changing and adapting to circumstances and community demands.

- the expansion of the pre-school nursery,

-  the contraction of the social club,

- finding new uses for the playing field – such as the development of the Inspero  kids gardening and growing  scheme

-  changes to operations in response to cost pressures and climate change with the installation of  solar panels on the pitched roof


Researching this story has raised as many questions as it has uncovered answers, particularly a dearth of photographic material which is surely out there


This is an appeal for photographic material to put colour and personal touch to the story of the village hall - carnival pictures, firework displays, pictures from the groups using the hall ….


Thank You!



Marion Wolstencroft December 2015



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