Lady Bruce laid the a stone at St Hilary Village Hall in 1930 and the hall has been well used by residents ever since.
St Hilary Women’s Institute was established in 1932 and continues to meet in the hall. One of its more recent presidents Molly Ranger recalled that there used to be a fireplace on the outer wall between the two cupboards. That was the only heating and whilst some sat close to the fire warm and cosy others were freezing!
Caroline, the daughter of Edith and Ken Vaughan told us that as a child in the 1950s she went to Christmas parties in the Village Hall.
And, she reminisced about the youth club in the village hall run by Mrs Anne Jenkins in the early 60s. “We would dance to our records and every so often we would have a village dance. Tom Jenkins played the piano, Terry Foreman was on the drums and Les Jones on the fiddle. Viv Davies would sing ‘Diana’. Oh, for the good old days”.
In a recent interview Mary Thomas of Church Crescent recalled the frequent dances in the village hall and that the place was always heaving. Mrs Kennedy was ”the party piece and Lindsay Thomas used to go to town with it. He would be in the middle dancing with her. We had some very good nights there.
- Les Jones (Howard’s father) played the violin
- Tommy Jenkins (Maud Jenkin’s son) was the pianist
- Viv Davies sang – he used to live in Carfref
- Trevor Evans from Pen-y-Bryn farm was the drummer”
Mary recalled that there was also a steel band that came to the village a number of times. Plus, there were lots of fancy dress dances.
She commented that Bob Brierley and Jeannie Griffiths used to organise lots of things for the village.
Carolyn Lyons was Chair for around 28 years. She followed Hilary Pollock. Jenny Lord (previously resident of Garth y Gegin, now living in Llanblethian) was secretary for many years and only retired from the position when she moved out of the village.
Past minutes from the Village Hall Committee document much of the activity. Village hall business is recorded as far back as 1957 – here's a page from the ledger for 1957-1958:
Examples of activities and events held in the 90s include:
- September 1989 - 1992 Playgroup in the Hall ran by Monica Dennis and friend Jenny Labaton – click here for the details
- 1992 Coffee and pancakes morning
- 1992 Race Night
- June 1992 Car Boot Sale Ralph Thomas’ field
- November 1992 Village Bonfire
- November 1992 Autumn Supper
- September 1993 60s night
- October 1993 Village supper following evensong
- November 1993 Bonfire night Downs – village hall food
- December 1993 Mulled wine and mince pies
- March 1994 Coffee morning St David’s day
- September 1994 Village supper
- October 1994 Coffee morning
- November 1994 Bonfire night last time it was held
- November 1994 Wine tasting Ballantynes
- November 1995 Village supper
- December 1995 Carols, mince pies and mulled wine
- May 1996 Quiz Night
- March 1997 Quiz night
The maintenance of the hall has been supported by a Prince of Wales Trust Grant in 1992 and a Welsh Government Grant in 2007:
The 2007/9 transformation was made possible by a grant of £48,000 from the Welsh Assembly Government. David Hawkins, trustee at the time, said:
“We now have a hall which has been transformed and is a huge asset to the local population. The transformation has been amazing. When you walked into this hall before, you could smell, almost taste, the damp. It didn’t encourage anyone to use it. Now it is fresh and alive, once again. It has been given a new lease of life and the villagers are proud to able to use it to full advantage once again.”
The renovation work included re-roofing the kitchen and toilet extension, damp-proofing, new internal walls, replastering and redecorating throughout and a new expanded entrance for disabled access.
Today, the hall is used for one off events and on a regular basis by various local groups including:
- TV company for filming
- St Hilary WI
- Madrigal singers
- Fabric painting group
- Community Council
- Yoga classes
- Pilates classes
- Pottery workshops
- Polling station
For details about hiring the hall, click here.