Village Hall Renovation Programme
Modernising our Hall : The story so far...
The modernisation programme for Ribchester Village Hall has so far seen major improvements made to the fabric of the building, as well as a major 'facelift' to the main hall and its back rooms. The principal driver for this work has been to enhance comfort and convenience for our users as well as to bring our Hall into the 21st century for energy efficiency.
Phase 1 - Greening the Hall
In early 2012 we were delighted to hear that we had been awarded grants from the Rural Development Programme for England (£47,000) and the Village Amenities Grant from Ribble Valley Borough Council (£5,000) for our proposed improvements. However, all the work scheduled for phase 1 had to be completed before the grants could be claimed! It was a big decision to make, but we decided to push the project forward over Summer 2012 and closed the Hall for a 6-week period.
We needed to raise 7% of the cost ourselves, through fundraising events and community donations. During 2012, volunteers held a number of fundraising events on our behalf, including a couple of well-attended film nights, a private themed birthday party which invited donations instead of birthday presents and a Festive Concert by Music Makers, the village choir based at St Wilfrid's Church, with Christmas music and readings from sources secular and sacred.
The work was completed on schedule in September 2012 and the Hall returned to regular use. A thick layer of insulating material had been fixed on the inside of the walls and high ceiling; a new ventilation system to circulate fresh air and underfloor heating had been installed, with a new bamboo floor on top. The old gas heating was taken out and a new air source heat pump fitted, changing us to green energy and an Economy 7 tariff. This not only gives us a warm, welcoming hall, but lower running costs and a constant background heating temperature.
The traditional panelling on the lower part of the walls was replaced and a good coat of paint refreshed everywhere, so that the hall looks the same and conserved its much-loved village feel.
Phase 2 - A First Class Amenity for Ribchester
The improvement work continued in Summer 2013 and into 2014, with renovations initially focussed on the back room, toilets and kitchen. Step into the new kitchen and you will notice a very big difference! We decided to completely replace the old units, rather than move the existing ones. As well as giving the new space a modern and fresh finish, this should also mean that it stays that way well into the future. The toilet facilities have also been moved and modernised and a private back room will, we hope, provide opportunity for new usage opportunities.
In 2014, we gained planning permission to complete the remaining elements of Phase 2 of our programme, after some very lengthy negotiations with planning authorities.
This piece of work involved the covering-over of the passageway that leading to the back door, which had for many years been a dark, windy and leaf strewn corridor. Alongside the addition of a new roof, the (now indoor) passage/corridor benefits from much improved lighting and two new rear stage entrances have been created (left and right). The attractive external stonework and date-stone has not been plastered over, but instead remains an attractive feature.
At the same time, two new stage entrances will be created, leading off the corridor so that all people will be able to access the stage from the back, left and right (rather than using the existing wooden steps at the side of the stage, which can be removed). Finally, the passage beyond the existing porch will also be covered in providing extra storage space and security.
These improvements provide us with a first-class amenity that we hope will attract interest from a variety of potential users - and, of course, be a big boost to our own amateur dramatics group.
Throughout this ongoing improvement process, we are grateful to the many local people and groups who have and continue to support the Hall's upgrade by fundraising or making personal donations to help us meet the considerable expenses of the project.
Phase 3 : Into Another league
We hope that on completion of the third stage of our renovation goals, we will take the Hall into a different league of meeting venues and attractions. Initial plans have been drawn up for an extension on the northerly side of the Hall - adjacent to the Roman granaries, which could be used for a heritage centre, storage space and additional meeting rooms. The neighbouring Roman Museum would also share the use of some of the rooms.
This phase which has not yet been fully costed but will hopefully attract funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund. There are several technical challenges to face given the nature of the site and many interested parties will need to be consulted before work can start, but the potential gains to Ribchester from having its own Heritage Centre on that site are enormous. We invite you to watch this space!