Call to rally round under-threat community club in Northumberland village
A public meeting is taking place tonight to discuss the future of Belford Community Club, which is in danger of closing.
It takes place in the club at 7.30pm to garner ideas for potential uses and attempt to find a way forward. Everyone and all ideas and proposals are welcome; it is hoped that, as historically the building has had many guises, it can once again become a village asset that will thrive and one from which Belford residents will continue to benefit.
The hall, which was originally a church, is the second largest building in the village and has an interesting history.
It was converted to the Belford War Memorial Hall after the First World War and for many years housed the local cinema.
A van would arrive three times a week with a new film. There were two showings most days with three on a Saturday.
A local lady who came to the area as a Land Army Girl from Tyneside remembers being thrilled at being posted somewhere which seemed so rural and remote to her but which had a cinema.
Because of the risk of fire, the projection booth was actually outside the building, but high up so that the projectionist had to climb an external ladder to reach the booth.
By the 1970s, the building was in a bad state of repair, renovations were required but there was no money.
A group of villagers, headed by the late Jimmy Williamson, got together and decided to resolve the situation. A community social club was formed with people purchasing life memberships to raise capital.
Vaux at that time had a monopoly on the village pubs so Dryborough’s brewery also provided funds for the building costs with the proviso that only their beers were sold in the now-licensed premises.
Johnson’s the builders did some of the building work but many people, including Johnson’s employees, worked in the evenings and at weekends for nothing to allow the renovation to be completed.
The dance floor came from a flour mill on Tyneside which was demolished. It was carefully taken up and relaid, again with volunteer labour.
With a lounge, bar and games area downstairs and a very large function room, lounge and kitchen upstairs, the community club has for many years thrived. There were regular dances, bingo nights and keep-fit classes, among other activities, and it is used as a venue for weddings, birthdays, children’s parties and meetings.
However, the past few years have been difficult and the future is uncertain.