A Village Hall for Old Marston

(Oxford Mail, Wednesday 29th August 1962 - "Opening in September, it's booked up already" by Margaret Parkinson)

Old Marston's new village hall in Oxford Road, Old Marston, will be officially opened on September 6. The one-storey building on the Oxford Road recreation ground, will be called Mortimer Hall and has cost more than £7,000 including equipment. The idea of building a hall for village activities was raised before the last war, remained in abeyance during the war years, and was re-considered in 1948. Plans remained indefinite until about three years ago when a new village hall management committee was formed. "There had been a number of earlier projects for different types of buildings, mainly pre-fabricated ones, but for one reason or another the projects were frustrated," explains Mr A. L. Pollard, secretary of the management committee, who is a University librarian at the Taylor Institute. "By the time we took over as the management committee some people had come to the firm conclusion that they would never get a village hall. But many local residents are now showing a considerable amount of interest in it. "What really gave a new impetus to the building of a village hall was the possibility of incorporating a permanent branch of the county library in it, to replace the mobile library service in the village."

Mortimer Hall

The building will be called Mortimer Hall, in memory of the late Rev. John Mortimer, a former vicar of Marston, who gave the village its recreation ground in Oxford Road, together with some money towards the cost of building a village hall at the side of the ground. A third of the cost has been provided by the parish, through accumulated contributions from the village and the proceeds of Fetes and the concert party shows over several years. Another third is being contributed by the Ministry of Education and the remainder will come from the local authorities.

Fully Booked

Already the village hall is almost fully booked up. Scottish dancing on Tuesday evenings will be a new feature of village community life in which anyone can join and on Saturdays, talks, demonstrations, exhibition and cultural events will be arranged by the village hall management committee. The management committee is also sponsoring a nursery play group which will be held each morning from Mondays to Fridays with qualified staff. Monday evenings will be reserved for youth club meetings and Wednesday evenings for the new boys club led by Mr Michael Howard. On Thursday the Marston Players will rehearse there and on Friday evenings whist drives, bingo drives, dances and other social events will be held.

Easily Adapted

The one-storey village hall is designed for versatility. The main hall, which has one wall composed entirely of glass windows, has a stage for amateur dramatics and a maple strip sprung floor for dancing. Sliding doors between the main hall and the entrance hall can be pushed back to allow more space when dances are held. A multi-purpose committee room adjoining the main hall can also be used as a dressing room or a refreshment room. One door leads on to the stage and another side of the committee room adjoins the kitchen. A serving hatch opens from the kitchen on to the entrance hall, and cloakrooms are provided. Opposite the main hall, on the right-hand side of the front entrance, is a small library, to be used as a County Library branch. It has its own entrance from Oxford Road and can be used as a separate unit from the rest of the building, if desired. Outside there is a paved forecourt. Bicycle racks will be at one side and a car park is nearby. Voluntary labour from members of the management committee is helping to do the outside construction work. The exterior of the village hall is made of brown Uxbridge flint bricks with cedar boarding panels over the windows. The flat roof is made of bituminous felt and strawboard, and roof level of the main hall is higher than that of the other rooms. The building is roughly rectangular in shape with a slight projection at the front formed by the library.

Central Idea

"The idea was to make the village hall as flexible as possible," says Mr Philip del Nevo, of the Oxford Architects' Partnerships, who designed it. It gives a chance for all the many activities in the village life to have a focal point.