A BRIEF HISTORY OF ELDWICK MEMORIAL HALL
The origin of the Hall lies with the enthusiasm of a small group of villagers, serving in the Eldwick Platoon of the Home Guard during World War II.
The first recorded meeting was at Farfield in Glen View Road on 24 March 1944 when the war was near its climax. Those present agreed the Hall should be 60ft by 30ft, with a stage and dressing rooms, a badminton court, billiards room, reading room, kitchen and clinic.
During October 1945, first site in front of Moorland House in Otley Road was refused, due to lack of opportunity for any future development. In April 1951, after sixty two meetings, the present site was acquired. The plan was amended to remove the clinic and fundraising continued with various kinds of events.
The first sod was cut on the 11th April 1953. In June 1954 the committee purchased the derelict Eldwick Beck Mill which was demolished for some of the materials to be used in building Eldwick Memorial Hall. An arrangement was made, with £225 paid for the mill and the demolition contractor setting aside material for the Hall but keeping the rest. The same contractor was engaged to build the shell of the Hall. Not enough money had been raised for the provision of all facilities so voluntary labour was the answer, carried out by a small group of committee members and residents. Building work started in July 1954 and the completed building was opened on Saturday 13th October 1954. The building provided the hall, stage and dressing rooms, kitchen and toilets.
During 1959-1961 the committee encouraged the formation of the Eldwick Lawn Tennis Club by leasing land at the rear of the Hall for tennis courts and a pavilion. In 1963 an extension was added to the right hand side of the Hall for ladies toilets and a cloakroom, as well as enlaging the kitchen.
In 1969-1970 a further extension was proposed but then abandoned due to excessive costs.
In 1979 further discussions took place to improve finances beyond the income from regular lettings to local organisations. A licensed club to be called The Birches, after Alec Birch, was proposed for the use of village residents only, with a constitution that included excess income being donated to improve village community facilities. The Village Society led the project which was completed in 1983-1984.
In 1983 Manpower Services Commission’s Community Programme paid for a workforce to refurbish the hall with an initial cost of £11,000 reduced to £3,300 from Hall funds. This major project was completed by 1985 in a scheme worth £30,000. Fifteen Eldwick organisations were using the hall regularly along side family social events and major village events.
In 2009 the continued running of the Birches as a club was no longer viable. Eldwick Memorial Hall Trust acquired the building and now leases it for use as Licensed Premises receiving rent from the landlord. The Birches Club became known as Birches Freehouse.
The Management structure changed when Eldwick Memorial Hall Trust Ltd was formed in 2009. The company is run by four elected directors with representatives from the local organisations which use the hall.
Constant refurbishment programmes have continued through the years and the most recent, during 2013/14 has installed double glazing, complete reworking of the original wooden floor, new curtains and blinds, as well as a full internal redecoration.
These pictures and newspaper clippings provide a record of activities during the early life of the hall.