In the early 1950s a group of villagers formed a committee to look into building a community hall for the benefit of the villagers and in memory of those who died in WWII. The committee named itself ‘the committee of the Polesworth Memorial Hall’.
At a meeting of this committee on 26th February 1954, which was held in the Parish Hall off Tamworth Road, a constitution and the name ‘The Community Association’ was agreed. A public meeting was arranged on 26th March 1954 to approve this and to move the process forward. This was duly agreed at the meeting and matters could progress.
As yet no money had been obtained for the building of the Memorial Hall, although ground had been agreed on the Hall Court site which was and still is owned by the Parish Council and the scheme was backed by CISWO (Coal Industry Social and Welfare Organisation).
Some money was donated by CISWO but the majority of the money seems to have been raised in the village. Some gave substantial amounts in memory of loved ones who died and the three nonconformist chapels in the village contributed also. These were commemorated on plaques which were in the foyer of the hall until recently.
Other money was raised by public subscription, money being collected on a weekly basis from householders who wished to contribute. A formal lease of land including the area where the Memorial Hall now stands was agreed on 29th September 1955 for a term of 99 years at a yearly rent of one shilling. It consisted of 3 acres of land and is described as part of Hall Court including tennis court, old dovecote and tithe barn.
The formal trust deed for the Association is dated 23rd June 1965, although the Hall had been opened on 11th July 1959.
It is interesting to note that the County Council erected the Library and Youth Club buildings without consent, although that was rectified retrospectively in 1989. The Youth Club building has had many uses including a Doctors surgery and is now let commercially.
The Trustees bought land off Station Road from William Henry Riley the conveyance being dated 28th May 1956 to further the objectives of the committee.
Some of the land leased in 1955 to the Community Association was surrendered back to the Parish Council in 1990 to enable parking and access to the Health Clinic and Tithe Barn to be under the direction of the Parish Council.
The objects of the Association are:
‘the provision of facilities for recreation (including physical exercise) or other leisure-time occupation with the object of improving the conditions of life for the inhabitants of the Parish of Polesworth and the neighbourhood thereof and in particular (but not exclusively) such of the said inhabitants as are members of the local mining community and for purposes ancillary thereto.’
The foundation Trustees represented two from CISWO and two from NUM (National Union of Mineworkers). The Management committee, which was elected on a yearly basis to run the Hall, included the foundation trustees and also originally one representative appointed annually from the National Coal Board, one from NUM and also one from NACODS (National Association of Colliery Overmen, Deputies and Shotfirers). With the passing of the years and the decline of the mining industry in the area appointments to the foundation trustees of people who had any connection with the mining industry became difficult and those to the management committee became practically impossible. This situation was not rectified until a new trust deed for the scheme was drawn up at the insistence of the Charity Commission and dated 14th March 2006 which is the scheme in operation to date; although the four foundation trustees are still there to represent CISWO and NUM as before.
The Hall has been used for various activities over the years and in the early 60s many of the musical groups who performed there became big stars. There was once a thriving group called the Polesworth Players who performed pantomimes and plays during the year and it was used for many celebrations including the Carnival Queen dances. The Hall had adapted itself to the changes in society and is well used today.
By Margaret Henley
Chair, Polesworth History Project Group