Village Hall Refurbishment

Several years ago, it was decided that a fairly radical upgrading in a number of areas of the premises was needed.  To that end, the Management Committee undertook a review and survey of the facilities and prioritised and budgeted for a refurbishment investment that would enable it to continue to meet and respond to the wishes and needs of those who use it.

The Snooker Room, or Club Room as it is now referred to, was the easiest to put into good condition.  Following a flurry of village fund-raising events, the Management Committee used those funds to completely refurbish the room to bring it back to 1924 appearances.   Gone were the second-hand waiting room style benches, to be replaced with button-backed settles around traditional style tables.  This has formed a club room area ideal for fine dining by up to 20 people, and gives the snooker players a traditional environment in which to play.  Lighting is in Tiffany style, and with William Morris wallpaper and the floor sanded and coated, the effect is very pleasing.  

Next, sound and heat insulation.  We had dense insulating material fixed to the end wall of the main hall, and to the stairs and landings.  Then we had secondary double glazing fixed to all of the windows in the building.  Our thanks to the Mid Durham Area Action Partnership of Durham County Council for their help and funding support in both of these projects.

Finally, came the largest and most costly project ever undertaken by the Management Committee which comprised the redesign, extension and complete replacement of the existing kitchen area.  The building programme, at an estimated cost of circa £50,000, was approved by the Management Committee in 2014 and work began at the start of 2015.

To budget for this work the BCA:

  • Built up, over a number of years of careful budgeting, a reserve of funds for improvements
  • Approached key Funders, supportive of community venues, and applied for grants
  • Hosted a number of events for villager self-fundraising

We have also, thanks to a grant from the Community Chest Fund, been able to improve the disabled facilities in various areas of the building.

The whole project is now almost completed and includes the following:

  • Kitchen facilities that meet health and food safety requirements and enable us to carry out more food preparation and cooking on the premises.  This has opened up opportunities for different activities including a lunch club and cookery courses.  It will also deliver more options for anyone who hires the premises
  • Installation of two new boilers to replace the ageing and unreliable ones in situ
  • Installation of a hand lift to transport food, crockery etc., to the upstairs hall thereby reducing the risk to volunteers and hall users inherent in carrying hot/heavy items up and down the narrow stairway
  • Sanding and resurfacing of all the floors in the building
  • Provision of a fully compliant disabled toilet; a ramp to improve disabled access to the ground floor; provision of handrails, wider steps and improved lighting to facilitate exit from the upstairs hall

We are rightly proud of what has been achieved and would like to thank Brancepeth villagers, their families and friends for contributing to self-fundraising events and also to the following grant-making organisations for their support of our valued community venue:

  • Ballinger Charitable Trust
  • Big Lottery – Awards for All
  • Brancepeth Parish Council
  • Catherine Cookson Trust
  • Community Chest Grant
  • County Durham Community Foundation (CDCF)
  • Durham County Council – County Councillors Neighbourhood Fund & Mid-Durham Area Action Partnership (AAP)
  • Sir James Knott Trust

Janet Molloy, Chair of BCA (2016)

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