A brief history of Wedmore Village Hall
A Methodist Schoolroom dating from 1818 originally stood on the site of the present Village Hall. In 1881 this was sold to the Church of England for £568.3s.8d. The money came from: “voluntary subscriptions or gifts of Donors unknown”
It was proposed that the old building be pulled down and new premises be erected. “when so built, in manner to render them suitable as well for the purpose of the Church School on Sundays, as also of a Working Men’s Institute or Reading and Coffee Room to be open to the poor of Wedmore, or for the vestry or other Parochial meetings, or any other purpose that the Trustees might approve of”
This newly built hall is now 135 years old and in 1882 cost just £522.10s! The Minute Books, kept by the Trustees, still survive (the early ones in beautiful copperplate script). They show that the Trustees considered improvements to the building early on. Interestingly one of the first tenders for an enlargement to the building was accepted from Messrs J.Gibbs (Retired builder Jimmy Gibbs’ grandfather).
A Mr. Solomon Wall was also asked to make alterations to the front wall around the Schoolroom. Solomon Wall was a well known mason in Wedmore and several houses built by him, may be seen around Wedmore today. He was regularly paid for alterations and made necessary repairs to the roof. Solomon Wall is the great- great grandfather of David Tucker, who works as a builder today.
In 1982 the Church Commissioners leased the Hall to Wedmore Parish Council for an initial period of 56 years, and it has recently been extended. A new Wedmore Village Hall Management Committee was formed to manage the building. This committee may consist of representatives from all the organisations who regularly use the Hall, plus elected independent members. Representatives from the Church Trustees and the Parish Council also sit on the committee. It was recognized that the village needed a central meeting place for organizations and clubs to meet, and the existing hall was lacking in facilities, and needed updating.
Major alterations were carried out over 30 years ago, to rebuild the small hall, kitchen, toilets and bar area, and to move the stage back to its original position. These alterations cost £54,795 and were met by grant aid from Somerset County Council, Sedgemoor District Council, Wedmore Parish Council and fund raising by the Village Hall committee.
Easter 1983 saw the grand opening of the renovated Wedmore Village Hall, but since then work has continued over the years to upgrade the facilities and to adhere to the latest safety requirements.
In 2004 a major structural survey was carried out and a programme of repairs and renovations was identified, to cost £60,000. A fund raising initiative was launched and many improvements have since been carried out. The target was increased to £75,000, to meet outstanding work, and this was achieved through successful grant applications to Viridor, Garfield Weston, Leonard Laity Stoate and Wedmore Parish Council, as well as fund-raising events within the village.
September 2009 saw the completion of the new flat roof, skylights and specially designed lantern roof, bringing much more natural light into the Small Hall, Kitchen and Snug. These improved facilities provided an alternative venue for smaller meetings and social events.
The large windows of the hall were completely re-glazed with modern toughened glass and the stone mullions surrounding them repaired and partially replaced in 2011. This project cost £19,000 and was funded by Sedgemoor District Council, Somerset County Council and generous sponsorship of individual window panes by Parishioners, local organisations and businesses.
In 2015 we completely refurbished the toilets, making structural changes to provide more cubicles and basins in the female facilities. This project cost £46,000 and was supported by a grant from Viridor. The oak floor of the Main Hall was completely sanded back to bare wood in 2018 and treated with a tough sports hall varnish, at the same time replacing all the badminton court markings.
The capability of the Main Hall to be used as a well-equipped theatre venue has been steadily increased. In 2013 the stage was recarpeted and blackout blinds fitted to the stage windows. Permanent cabling to control the stage lighting and sound systems has been installed, so that an operator can 'drive' it from the back of the hall. Then in 2018 a system of fold-away raked seating was installed with grant assistance from Sedgemoor District Council, creating a stunning auditorium for theatrical and musical events.
Enormous improvements have been made to the energy efficiency of the Hall. LED lights have been fitted in the Small Hall, toilets, kitchen and entrance lobby, and high efficiency, electronically controlled fluorescent fittings installed in the Main Hall. In 2018 Green Wedmore led a project to install photovoltaic solar panels and a Tesla battery which enables the Hall to generate 50% of the electricity it uses. The major sponsor of this project was Wedmore Community Power Cooperative. Finally, the old halogen uplighters in the Main Hall have been replaced with LED units that, in addition to being much more energy efficient, can be controlled centrally to create wonderful lighting effects for events. This too was made possible by sponsorship from Wedmore Community Power Cooperative.
We are immensely grateful to all our sponsors, who are listed here, without whose help we couldn't keep the Hall running.