Aldbourne War Memorial Hall on 6 December 1921

6 December 1921 was an important day in Aldbourne history; it was the day on which the Management Committee for the proposed War Memorial Hall met and a resolution to start the build was carried.

We know from the War Memorial Hall Minutes that the people of Aldbourne began in 1917 to consider what form the War Memorial should take, and that it was ultimately decided that a Parish Hall should be built. From 1917 money was being collected from many endeavours.

At meetings through 1921, alongside such important matters as pianos, billiard tables and smoking concerts for the veterans, the minutes show an underlying concern for the cost of building and by the 27 June 1921 it was proposed by Mr Mallinson (Old Rectory) and seconded by Lady Currie (Upham) “that we do not start building until we can get an estimate within £200 of the money we have.”

At a meeting on 12 July 1921, Lady Currie had written to the General Committee suggesting that ‘tenders should be asked for on a sliding basis, ie cost of all building materials, should be reduced allowing to the fall which undoubtedly will, and is actually taking place. Labour should be on the same basis, that is, as the price of labour falls, so should the estimate be reduced.”

Meetings continued through the summer and autumn; fundraising and the administration of the temporary hut in Whitley Meadow were the topics of several meetings: including the opening of a Boys Club. “It was decided that no boy under 14 should be allowed to come to the club without he was at work”.

By 21 November 1921, the fundraising target was in reach and it was proposed “that fresh tenders be asked for inside and outside the village to build the Hall local labour be employed as much as possible and the lowest tender be accepted in or out of the village provided the sum is what we can pay.”

It was further proposed by Miss Todd [one of my favourite Aldbourne ladies] and seconded by Mr Waite, that the Building Committee should see Mr Moulding on the position as regards his tender with a view to the continuing fall in prices and the money we have at our disposal”.

And so we arrive at 6 December 1921 – one hundred years ago exactly – with a balance of £1,000 in hand. Mr T H Chandler read out Mr Mouldings revised tender for £1,200 and the following resolution was carried:

That we recommend Mr Mouldings revised tender be accepted and that he be asked to proceed with the work as soon as possible. Proposed by Mr Shephard Seconded by Miss Todd that the secretary write and ask for the promised subscriptions.

There is so much more of this story to be told and chapters along the way will illustrate how the village worked together to support a project that honoured the fallen, and also created a facility that would endure to play an important role in Aldbourne’s social life. I’ll leave the final word today to Honor Liddiard (nee Orchard), who was present at the opening of the hall in charge of Aldbourne Guides.

When war was declared in August 1914, the village boys volunteered at once, and within months were fighting overseas. In the main, only old folk, girls and women were left. The few men were either over age for service, or small farmers in reserved occupations.

When the war was over and the boys who had survived the slaughter came home, everyone was determined that a place other than the school must be built for all our activities. We had weekly dancing classes in the school, admission sixpence, where we all learned the new dances, but still enjoyed the Lancers, Waltz and Polka. Then we acquired an old Army Hut, which was put up just below Colonel Milton’s house. We held our meetings, whist drives, weekly dances and concerts there, until we had raised sufficient money to build the Memorial Hall in memory of the boys who did not return to us. There were no grants in those days and it was built by the determination, love and enthusiasm of young and old.

Honor Liddiard writing in the Parish Magazine 1967

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