Renovation complete at community venue

Mike Gowland and Bill Bland at Thropton War Memorial Hall.
Mike Gowland and Bill Bland at Thropton War Memorial Hall.
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It’s been four years in the making, but a Coquet Valley village now has a completely revamped hall at the heart of its community.

In 2009, an extension including a meeting room, showers and a kitchen was built at Thropton War Memorial Hall thanks to financial support from the then Alnwick District Council.

Since then, work has been carried out across the rest of the facility with the walls insulated at the end of last year.

Additional funding from the Northumberland National Park Authority has meant that the roof has now been insulated and new cladding installed and the final cosmetic improvements are being finished off now.

The installation of a large digital projector screen means that this vital village hub is now a real asset for residents.

To celebrate the completion of all the renovation work, the hall is hosting an authors’ evening on Saturday, May 18.

Appearing at the event will be Thropton author Tom Dean, who wrote A Dangerous Windfall, and Dave Robinson and Hugo Aiken, writers of Nature in Northumberland’s Upper Coquetdale, previously featured in the Gazette.

It starts at 7.30pm and tickets are £7 to include tea/coffee and biscuits.

Hall committee secretary and vice chairman Mike Gowland said: “The pressure it’s put on bookings has been amazing.

“We made this month a quiet one because of the building work, but we still ended up with many bookings.

“At the moment, we can accommodate most people within the two rooms.”

He added that the feedback from hall users so far had been ‘superb’.

Committee treasurer Bill Bland said: “People have got a lot of affection for this hall, they really do.

“I give talks in lots of village halls and some are awful, but this is a really good one.”

And this is reflected in the variety of different groups that use the hall, everything from Brownies and Rainbows to the WI and the carpet bowls club.

It is also used for indoor archery, meetings of a dog club and hired out for birthdays and anniversaries.

Recently a number of cycle treks have used it as a stopping-off point, while talks are ongoing to try to bring a Northumberland Theatre Company production to the venue later in the year.

The hall committee also hosts around five or six events each year as fund-raisers to help cover the running costs of the facility.

The hall was built after the First World War as a memorial to the war dead, thanks to a gift from the then Lord Armstrong.

A contemporary newspaper report described the grand occasion of its opening: ‘It is a hall which has been a work of love throughout, contributed to freely and spontaneously by rich and poor alike.

‘It is a beautiful monument, but its greatest beauty is not its architecture but the spirit of of the people which has produced the hall’.