History of Great Bradley Village Hall
The current Village Hall used to be the school. Until about 1939, a Church Hut had stood on land next to the school and was used for social gatherings but the hut was demolished at that time and Prospect Villas were built in its place (Prospect Villas are the two semi-detached houses to the left of the hall).
After the war when it seemed that a new school in Thurlow might mean the closure of Great Bradley School, a fund was opened in Great Bradley ready for possible purchase of the school building for use as a village hall.
For more information on the school click here
The school finally closed in 1967, and, since it had been a Church school the building was to be sold by the Diocesan Authorities. On June 29th, a parish meeting took place when it was agreed to negotiate the purchase. In May 1968, an offer to purchase the school for £1,250 was sent to H. C. Wolton & Son who had valued the property on behalf of the Diocesan Authorities. The fund referred to earlier had risen to £339-12s-10d. In addition to the purchase price, a considerable sum was required for conversion of the school into a village hall. Grants available at the time could be maximised by application from a village hall committee rather than the Parish Council.
After much discussion on the proposed conversion of the school, planning approval was given by Clare Rural District Council on 26th March 1971. Various fund raising activities had been organised by the Village Hall Committee such as Bingo sessions throughout 1969, 1970 and 1971, and a summer fete held on July 4th 1970 which raised ca £160. In October 1970, the treasurer reported a balance of £685-5s-6d. In addition, the Parish had received £419 from sale of land in Evergreen Lane (now occupied by 'Ragill' and 'Conways'). The purchase and conversion costs were: £1,325 eventual purchase price, £4,247 building work and £531 architect fees making a total of £6,103.
The Architect appointed was John Adams of Ipswich, and the contractor was M. Carrick of Newmarket. To save costs, in August 1972, the existing outbuildings were demolished by voluntary labour and the bricks were cleaned for reuse. Grants were received from West Suffolk Education Committee (£3,196) and Clare Rural District Council (£1,248).
The Village Hall was opened officially by Group Captain Leonard Cheshire, VC on 30th June 1973, husband of Sue Ryder. The Hall was filled to capacity for the occasion, with many people unable to gain access and having to stand outside. The Village Hall was registered as a charitable trust in 1986 and the named trustees were Stephen Ryder of Great Bradley Hall and Frank Hearn. The registered charity number is 293044.
In May 1999 the Hall closed for major refurbishment. The tender price of £60,224 submitted by RG. Bailey & Sons was accepted, and the Hall was reopened in March 2000. Grants were obtained from the Millennium Commission and St. Edmundsbury Borough Council. The parish contribution was obtained by a variety of fund raising functions and the Parish Council assisted by obtaining a Public Works Loan of £9,000 repayable over a 15 year period.
To see the fascinating records, from the Village Archive, recording how the village hall was established see the Village hall section in the Village Archive. Not only do the records show what happened, but they provide a fascinating social history when virtually all communication was done by letter!
To see the records relating to the hard work put into the restoration at the turn of the Millennium see the Village Hall section in the Village Archive
On Saturday 8th October 2011 Great Bradley Village Hall was officially declared open for business after several months of refurbishment following severe flooding in the winter of 2010.
Approximately 20 villagers turned up for a glass of bubbly and a slice of specially commissioned cake. The cake, depicting the village hall, was made by Great Bradley resident Gina Fitch who very kindly donated her work of art.
Edward Fletcher, chairman of the Village Hall Committee, thanked the committee for their hard work and perseverance in getting the hall restored to its former glory. The committee would also like to thank village residents for their help and support over what has proved to be a testing time