Located in Batford in East Harpenden our venue is in a quiet residential area.
Ideal venue for childrens parties, meetings, all celebratory occassions and events.
Our facilities include two halls, a fully equiped kitchen, access for the disabled and private car park to side of the building.
The hall holds 150 for a standing event or 100 for a seated event.
History of Batford Memorial Hall
Charles Bloomfield and his wife Dorothy were at the first meeting of the Memorial Hall Committee on 1st October 1961. It was the inauguration of the new building and was the culmination of efforts lasting almost 30 years.
Local people had raised the money and built the hall themselves. The new hall would be a focal point for the community, benefitting people of all ages. It would be open for toddlers and pensioners and every age in between. Charles and Dorothy have been active users of the hall for the last 50 years and know what an asset it has been to the people of Batford. The Committee would like to thank Charles and Dorothy for their loyalty.
Batford has always had an identity of its own. Its older residents, whos memories stretch back to the 1930s,remember the days when Batford had everything that it needed nearby, and they did not need to make the journey to the High Street in Harpenden for their daily requirements. The people there have always been proud to say that they lived in Batford and not in Harpenden. Ironically the bigger town was known as "The Village" whereas the real village was just known as Batford.!
When monies were allocated for community use, Batford always felt that the lion's share went to the town of Harpenden and very little was allocated their way. So, without a Village Hall, and no prospect of resources coming from the Local Authority, the local people generated a plan to have their own hall. As long ago as 1936 a committee was working to raise funds for the building of a hall in Batford.
A piece of land at the corner of Common Lane and Lower Luton Road was donated by local farmer, Mr Dolphin Smith. The following years were taken up with the country's efforts to win the war and took priority over everything else. The committee generously donated the pot of money it had collected towards the construction of the new hospital annexe at The Red House in Carlton Road.
After the war ended in 1945 there was still an unsatisifed demand for a place for the Batford Community to meet and Mr and Mrs Eric Edwards took the lead in relaunching the fund for the hall in Batford with the intention of dedicating it to the local men and women who had given their lives in both World Wars.
Family Service over the Generations
Mabel Fruen was the first caretaker of the hall and she took great pride in keeping the nely built hall spick and span. She retired in 1978 after working there for 17 years. At that time her son John was the drummer in a rock and roll band and often played at social gatherings in the hall and at various venues venues in Harpenden and St Albans. Almost 50 years later John is still heavily involved in the hall having taken on the role of booking secretary, hall maintenance, and major key holder. The hall has become an integral part of his life and his service continues to be valued and respected by all. To many he has become "the face" of the hall.
The Harpenden Trust has been a huge supporter of the Memorial Hall over the years and continues to be so. On a number of occasions it has given substantial grants towards the costs of major renovations. This has meant a new kitchen and central heating a few years ago. The community would like to recognise this generosity then and in the future.
Batford Roll of Honour
Many people over the years have generously given their time and effort to the business of running the Memorial Hall and providing community leadership.
The Committe was, and still is, all unpaid work, and the whole community continues to benefit through their selflessness. It is not possible to mention them all, and very easy to offend very worthy people by omission. This is a Roll of Honour listing the main people who, over the years, have been most prominent :-
Mr V Roberts Mr and Mrs Taylor In 1959 The Memorial Hall Committee felt able to announce plans
Mr Pat Wilson Mr W S Fisher for the construction of the Hall. Fundraising occupied everyone's
Mr D R Gammons Mr F Grant time and the air was full of expectancy. However it actually took a
Mr Frank Allen Mr M Paddison further two years until the earth was broken and building began.
Mrs Berry Mr R Woodfield
Bob Cain The youth club was going strong and there was bingo in the evening
Richard Potts and dances most weekends. Whist Drives and Old TIme Music Hall
Aubrey Tarbox were very popular.
Turn of the Century The use of the hall declined in the 1990s and the committee had
difficulty in raising enough funds to present the facilities at their best.
Dawn Cairns In 2001, with the future of the hall at stake, Councillor Bernard Lloyd
Trevor Crawley called a special meeting. A new batch of people completely
Rosemary Lewis renovated the Hall and volunteered to take roles on the Committee.
The Scott Family-Jim, Mavis & Steve
2002 Trustees With a 10 year lease in place a great deal of work was undertaken
to improve the Hall. Grants were obtained from The Harpenden
Andee Major Bernard Lloyd Trust and great efforts were made to increase revenue by regular
John Fruen Charles Bloomfield to clubs/businesses during the day to secure further modernisation
Graham Goffe Mike Waddilove of the facilities and maintain the hall to a good standard.
Present Committee The present committe are working hard to ensure that the Hall is
Kim Fruen used to it's capacity to ensure a sustainable income whilst ensuring
Samantha Bowen that the Hall's primary function is not forgotten. A new Lease is in the
Nikki Park process of being secured and grants are being sought to improve
Rosemary Bowen the building and provide more community events. A website has
Paul Freeman been built and is regularly updated and a full programme of
John Fruen community avtivities and events is being planned. With the ever Rosemary Farmer increasing financial demands of running the Hall this takes a great Mary Maynard deal of time and effort from the volunteers of the Committee and
Hilary Taylor their selflessness and commitment is much appreciated.
Fund Raising and Construction
The first Batford Flower Show was held in 1946 and fundraising got underway again. The committee applied for planning permission and when it was initially refused by the Council, it was hard to sustain interest. The site was eventually sold and sheltered housing was erected on the plot in the 1960s.
Batford's first Urban District Councillor, Vic Truss, along with Eric and Mrs Edwards called a public meeting in 1956 and a new committee elected to push again for a community hall. The fundraising efforts were restarted and over the following few years local people contributed to the growing fund. The Batford Flower Show and Fete now became an annual event and made the biggest contribution. They were held at the New Church Site at Pickford Bridge and included Scottidh Dancers, a baby show, pony rides and Bustem & Kill the Rat. In 1959 the first prize for the best marrow was 10 Shilllings and the best plate of plums won 3 Shillings. ( 50p and 15p in today's money! )
The Committee entered into extensive discussions with the Urban District Council and were able to set up arrangements for a new plot at the corner of the prisoner of war camp site. The camp had closed in 1948 but for a further 10 years had been used as temporary housing for Harpenden families and ex service staff. In 1958 it was closed permanently and Tallents Crescent was built. The Council agreed to lease a portion of land to the Committee at a nominal rent. The Committee then successfully applied for a grant and together with the funds already raised, they had enough money to make a start on the construction of the building. The plans were drawn up by local architect, Pat Wilson.
The Memorial Hall was built in 2 stages, the first relying completely on voluntary efforts of local people. Harpenden builder, Douglas Baulk donated materials and Batford volunteers dug out the foundations. Much of the early bricklaying was carried out by local bricklayer Charlie Carter. It took 3 years to bulid the committee room, kitchen and cloakrooms, a real community effort!
After this period new grants became available and with growing funds topped up the annual floer show and the efforts of the Batford Youth Club, the second phase of the building was completed by Frank Allum Builders. During the same period the Second Harpenden Scouts with the permission of the Memorial Hall constructed a building on the hall's grounds which was accessed via the Memorial Hall and leased to the Scouts by the hall committee.
The Hall was in full use in 1965 and a party was held on 1st January 1965 to celebrate. Throughout the 60s and 70s the hall thrived and it was common practice for local couples to hold their wedding reception there. A regular group of stalwart volunteers was at hand to prepare and serve the food. This was a time when everybody knew everybody in Batford. It truly was a village and everyone pitched in to help on special occasions. Most families had been born and brought up in the area and did not have to move away in search of employment or housing. Some people will have played at the hall as toddlers, met and made friends there as teenagers and celebrated anniversaries there as adults. Many a mantlepiece will have been adorned by black and white photos of the house holders, now in retirement taken just outside the Hall or cutting the celebration cake inside.
Nowadays the memories are created by the use of videos, digital cameras and through social media, but the ethos is the same.
Truly Batford Memorial Hall continues to remain central to the lives and memories of the people of Batford.