A BRIEF HISTORY OF THE LAND HELD BY THE HALL AND THE BATTLE TO MAINTAIN THE HALL
Attached herewith are various copies of records regarding the maintenance and fabric of the building over the years. The Hall at one time owned the site that Lindal Court is now sited, and this area was used for tennis courts. In WW2 the hall sustained damage due to bombs exploding in and around its vicinity and it was only due to an intervention from Winston Churchill himself that the protracted procedure of obtaining funds to repair the hall from the War Damage Fund was finally settled and repairs could be underaken.
In the early due to the financial needs of the Hall the land at Lindal Court was sold off in the early 1960s. From the proceeds of that sale two further properties were purchased namely 26 Buckingham Road and 4 Chelmsford Road. 26 Buckingham Road was purchased to provide accommodation for George Bunyan and his family as he was the caretaker of the hall and he eventually bought this property from the Trustees of the Memorial Hall.
4 Chelmsford Road was purchased around the same time and was converted into two flats and used to provide accommodation for vergers. Unfortunately it was also used to provide accommodation on a charitable status to parties who paid a very minimum rent. During the 1960s to late 1990s, 4 Chelmford was neglected and an opportunity was lost during those years to obtain a commercial income from the property which in turn would have provided an income that would have enabled the hall to have the fabric of the hall maintained in good condition.
As a result of inadequate funds being raised from lettings at the hall unfortunately the hall fell into disrepair and this had the knock on effect of impacting on the amount of lettings that took place at the hall due to the hall beginning to look tired and neglected as can be seen from the attached photographs.
Not until the incumbent tenants either passed away or relocated to nursing homes was the property able to be used on a commercial basis. However, prior to this it was necessary for the flats at refurbished and this was undertaken by Nick in or around 1999 and it was only then that the flats were let on a commercial basis thereby providing income for the upkeep of the hall.
Even this however was fraught with difficulties because at one time it was suggested by the Trustees that 4 Chelmsford Road should be sold. This was during a period when the country was heading into a recession. Barbara Slaney, the Manager at the time recognised that if 4 Chelmsford was sold the proceeds of sale would not be able to be invested to give the kind of return that would provide an income to continue to maintain the hall. It would therefore have been necessary to dip into any capital monies raised by such a sale to maintain the hall. Due to the demands of the hall at the time (it needed to be fully refurbished) Barbara realised that any capital raised would be swiftly swallowed up through having to undertake urgent repairs and without the income from 4 Chelmsford or the capital which would be raised from a sale of the property, the hall would be unable to maintain itself despite the monies raised from letting the various rooms. The Trustees agreed with Barbara’s assessment of the situation and 4 Chelmsford was not sold and the ownership of the hall by the Charitable Trust has been a life saver in maintaining the existence of the hall.
From 1999 to the present time there has been considerable major refurbishments undertaken at the hall to include the whole of the outside and inside of the hall be refurbished, both the floors in the front hall and back hall being replaced.
The floor in the front hall was only replaced in 2015 after 113 years of wear and because the floor was producing splinters of up to 18 inches in length after funding had been received by various Grant Providers., the Fleche was repaired in 2006 after 104 years, sadly the replacement has not lasted as long as the previous original fleche and further works have to be taken on the fleche and work will commence in this regard on the 15th August 2016.
The work to maintain the fabric of the building from day to day continues with the assistance of Barry Mingay who has dealt with everything from changing the light bulbs to rodding the drains over the years not to mention internal painting, pointing and plastering.