In 1965, Mr Frank Preston started a project to build an imaginative and innovative new community hall in the village. After six long years the project was complete and the Longdown Village Hall was opened on the 31st October 1971 by the former chairman of Devon County Council Mr Gerald Whitmarsh.
The approximate cost of the hall and car park was £22,000, which is equivalent £320,000 today. Almost £9,000 was raised through donations and fund raising activities held in the village. The remainder came from the government at the time, the St Thomas Rural Council and the Northcott Devon Foundation.
The hall was built with the help of local volunteers on land kindly donated by Mr & Mrs C F Power. The new community hall replaced the original wooden church hall, which itself was the former Holcombe Burnell School in Vicarage Lane, opposite the Vicarage.
In 1984, the hall was extended with a new skittle alley and bar which was home to the popular skittles league organised by the Longdown Sports and Social Club. The village hall remained largely unchanged since the addition of the skittle alley, although planning permission was granted to two new meeting rooms to the rear of the hall but they were never built.
More recently, in the December 2015, the hall’s unusual cylindrical roof was renewed with a modern rubberised covering at a cost of £53,000. The replacement roof included improved insulation which contributed to a welcome reduction in heating costs and a lower carbon footprint.
In a bid to reduce the carbon footprint further, the trustees installed a large PV Solar panel system at a cost of £14,000. Over the last five and a half years, the system has generated 51.2MWh of energy and saved 13,083Kg of CO2 from being generated, equivalent to 600 trees being planted. The system should hopefully generate energy and for another 20 years.
Today the village hall is used by the Sports and Social Club as well as many local clubs and community groups, including: Art Classes, Dog Training, Exercise and Aerobic Classes, Pilates and Wellbeing Classes, Dancing, the Skittles League, Popular Farmers Market and even Badminton.
The village hall is also home to various Clubs and organisations outside the community including the Hardy Plant Society, the Alpine Gardening Club and various Craft clubs.
Our community is most fortunate to have such a large community hall and the Trustees and Management Committee are working hard to ensure the hall is fit for another 50 years with a comprehensive renovation and modernisation programme.
Some of the work we are hoping to commence includes:
- Improving accessibility to the hall building and modernising the entrance lobby
- Refit and modernisation of the meeting room including presentation facilities
- Improvements to the Bar and Skittle Alley
- Accessibility improvements within the hall for toilets and when moving between different rooms
- Installation of a new kitchen
- Replace all lighting with energy efficient and modern lighting
- Replacement of the toilet drainage system
- Renewal of car park surface and landscaping to provide a social green space
As you can imagine, with a building of this size, the work we are hoping to complete is quite an undertaking. So stay tuned as we will no doubt be looking for a group of hard working volunteers skilled in the use of a hammer and handy with an excavator.