Birth of Village Hall

From Humble Beginnings

The only facilities that the sporting clubs of Yapton had during the 1950’s and 60’s was the Village Hall which had been in use since 1923, after being converted from the defunct Sparks Engineering foundry, and occasionally Yapton Youth Centre situated alongside the playing field. There was a concrete toilet block with a storeroom attached on the edge of the field, backing onto Briar Close, where goalposts, stoolball wickets and other sporting paraphernalia were kept. This building also had wooden shutters in the wall facing the playing field which could be hinged outwards where scorers for cricket and stoolball could sit. These facilities provided only the basic requirements for the sporting clubs and prevented, in the case of the football clubs, promotion to higher leagues.

In 1979, the Village Hall Management Committee called a special meeting for all interested parties to explore the possibility of selling off the existing Village Hall and putting the money towards building a new building which would include dedicated facilities for the village sporting clubs. After great deliberation it was decided not to take this course of action. This decision meant that the clubs would have to continue to make do with the existing, inadequate arrangements.

Following this meeting a conversation took place between representatives of some of the clubs which led to the formation of The Sports Pavilion Club. Representatives from all the sporting organizations became members of this club with the specific aim to seek permission and raise funds to either extend the existing Youth Centre or build a dedicated sports pavilion on the KGV playing field. A feasibility study was undertaken into extending the Youth Centre with the resulting decision advising against going down this route. Following negotiations with Yapton Parish Council and the Playing Fields Association it was agreed that a site on the playing field would be made available at a peppercorn rent for the purpose of building a pavilion. The site selected was where the old concrete public toilets and store room was located, backing on to Briar Close.

There followed a period of intensive fund raising lasting several years. The events and initiatives were many and varied. They ranged from Car Boot sales to the revival of the Yapton Walk, from the sale of Lottery Tickets to Buy-a-Brick. A bonus of £1000 was donated by Southern Television by way of the Club’s president and Olympic Gold Medal winner Duncan Goodhew. With the building fund nearing £10,000, a local architect was commissioned to design and get planning permission for the new Pavilion which he subsequently did. It was at this point that the Village Hall committee had a change of heart. They decided that they could, after all, sell the Village Hall and build a new one

Following discussions and negotiations involving both Yapton and Ford Parish Councils, the Playing Field Association, the Village Hall committee, the Village Hall Charities Association and the Pavilion Club it was agreed that the Village Hall could be sold and the monies put towards the building costs of a new hall. The sale of the hall and the building of a new one did not meet with everyone’s approval. Many villagers thought it a waste of money and many voiced their opposition to the old hall becoming a supermarket.

Tenders for the design and building of the new hall were sought with the contract for the design going to Nigel Azziz’s DesignWorks who were responsible for the design of the Wivelsfield Green village hall. The design specification for the Yapton and Ford Village Hall required it to be multi-functional with bar facilities, a fully fitted out kitchen plus kitchenettes for the smaller halls and a stage. To satisfy the sporting club’s requirements, individual changing rooms for four teams plus changing rooms for officials were to be accommodated along with a scoring room with viewing window, a snooker room and storage for all the sporting equipment. Because the existing public toilets were going to be demolished, new public toilets with outside access had to be incorporated along with adequate toilet facilities inside.

The monies raised from the sale along with the funds of the Sports Pavilion Club and other various grants that became available were bolstered by loans raised by the two Parish Councils. This allowed the building of the new hall to become a reality. The management committee of the now defunct Sports Pavilion Club became the fundraising committee for the new Yapton & Ford Village Hall and continued to raise funds through the Yapton Walk, Race Nights, Dances and Cabarets.

The original design called for the changing rooms to be situated where the Clubroom is now and the area upstairs was designated as the Snooker Room but because of an oversight it was impossible to manoeuvre the snooker table up the stairs so the design was changed and the changing rooms were moved upstairs and the Snooker Room occupying the space downstairs. This, in the fullness of time proved disastrous as the showers often leaked causing damage to the ceiling below but all this redesign was to no avail as the snooker club disbanded before the new hall was completed and the snooker table was never installed. The access to the public toilets had to be blocked up due to constant acts of vandalism to the facilities.

The new Hall was opened by Lavinia, Duchess of Norfolk on Tuesday 25th April 1989.

Allen Misselbrook
July 2015

Why is it Yapton & Ford Village Hall? I think this was due to the fact when parish councils came into being in 1894, Ford wasn't big enough to have its own PC. The old village hall (where the Co-Op store is now) was the parish hall for both villages and stayed so even after Ford PC came into being. So when the new hall was built it automatically became the Yapton & Ford Village Hall. Ford PC raised a loan of £18,000 as their part of the funding of the project.


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