Thu, 25 Apr 2019
A CAMPAIGN has been launched to secure the future of Thatcham’s parish hall.
As reported in the Newbury Weekly News, the historic parish hall could be facing closure unless more hirers and income can be secured.
The hall, built in 1907, was bequeathed to the people of Thatcham and a campaign has been launched to keep the building open.
Thatcham Table Tennis holds an over 60s group in the upper hall on Wednesdays and Mondays, and its members say that it can be saved.
Member Eric Panting, who has played table tennis at the parish hall since 1959 when he was aged 15, said that members wanted to put their options forward to trustees.
He said: “We are asking for three months grace to try and find other hirers.
“There are 29 teams in the Newbury league and 14 are from Thatcham.
“We have only been trying to save it for the last three weeks and we have had a good response so far. I’m pretty certain we can turn it around.
The group holds an over 60s session and Mr Panting said that “it gets so busy here that we have started a Monday group as well.
“It’s a real social. They really enjoy themselves.
“A lot of them didn’t play table tennis before they came here.
“We get 24 hour access here. If one of our members says let’s go up the club we can.”
He said the options ranged from increasing the table tennis subs, to holding quizzes and securing smaller hirers.
Mr Panting has also set up a Facebook page to raise awareness, which has already attracted two potential hirers.
The parish hall lost £9,000 a year when Apple Tree Pre-school left the hall last July.
Parish hall treasurer David Weller said that the situation had been made harder because of the wealth of other buildings available for hire in Thatcham, including community halls and churches.
Mr Panting said: “The trustees I think have done a good job down there, but they don’t have the time.
“I think we could turn it around.
“It’s the original village hall.
“They wouldn’t be able to sell it without it going to the people of Thatcham and I’m pretty sure that they would not want to sell it
“We have looked at one other hall, but it was totally unsuitable.
“If you want the catholic hall, it’s big, but very expensive.
“It’s better trying to stay here and increase the subs.”
Table tennis club member Keith Wallace added: “We need to keep it open and we need to get as much help as we can get.
“The parish hall trustees have done a great job over the years but... I think they thought ‘oh what can we do?’
“They are looking for someone similar.
“We are looking for two, three or four smaller, not one big one.
“You have got to diversify.”
Ideas for a village hall in Thatcham were put forward in 1903 by Miss AL Henry, the third daughter of John Henry of Colthrop Mill.
Plans were made for a building to accommodate 200 people for concerts and other events and around £350 was raised to build it.
The parish hall was built by Mr W Child of Thatcham and was opened on April 10, 1907, by Mrs Benyon, the wife of the Lord Lieutenant of Berkshire.