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St George's Hall, Bewdley

Community Rooms, Café & Arts Venue

The Story So Far - Modernisation of the Hall

stgholdIn 2009 the Trustees of St Georges Hall approached Bewdley Development Trust and Bewdley Festival to work with them on redeveloping the Hall, which had been in a poor state of repair for some years. Bewdley Development Trust was engaged to develop the project, obtain funding and manage the build programme. The Trust obtained funding of £69,000 from Community Builders for design work and £805,000 RDPE funding from the Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) for construction costs.

The DEFRA funding was used to renovate the fabric of the building, demolish the 1960’s extension and replace it with a modern three-story building to provide an entrance foyer, refreshment area, a lift, exhibition areas and more lettable spaces to create a sustainable and vibrant facility.

Wyre Forest District Council and Wyre Forest Community Housing loaned £150,000 to underpin cash flow for the duration of the build contract. Bewdley Town Council grant funded £10,000 to help pay legal fees and other ancilliary costs.

Community needs were identified and incorporated in a Business Plan supported by outputs from community open forum consultation meetings.

A contract was tendered and awarded to an experienced contractor who started on site in November 2012 and the refurbished Hall re-opened in August 2013.

SGH Venue Management are managing the project on the basis that partnership working with other organisations is essential to deliver successful community projects. Good governance and budgetary control is an integral part of our management process and the team have researched best practice in the field by visiting other similar projects.

St George's Hall - A Brief History

Records show that St George's Hall was built in 1901.

It is believed that Mrs Sarah Woodward, the proprietress of the adjacent George Hotel, first of all petitioned the Bewdley Corporation to provide the facility as a public asset for the town. Upon the latter's refusal however, Mrs Woodward built and paid for the new hall herself using it as an adjunct to the George Hotel for large Balls and Parties.

It was also used as a Drill Hall during the Boer War and WW1. During WW2 it housed a needle manufactory.

Ownership of the Hall and the George Hotel had passed to John and Helena Cooper in 1909 but by the time Mrs Cooper sold the hotel in 1957 the Hall had lapsed into poor repair and was largely unused.

In the early 1960's, the Anglican Church in Bewdley invited the other local churches to form a group, under the leadership of local industrialist George Clancey of Beaucastle, with the view to purchasing the Hall and making it available as a meeting place for the different church denominations. A trust was formed and registered as a Charity under the title "Bewdley Christian Community Hall" (whose successor remains the freehold owner today.)

Five denominations signed up (Anglican, Roman Catholic, Methodist, Quakers and Christadelphian) and each provided two trustees although the latter two are no longer involved.

The Trust purchased the Hall in 1964 and the £25,000 needed for this and a total refurbishment and extension was almost entirely provided by Mr Clancey by way of an interest free loan. Many fund raising events were held with the view to repaying Mr Clancey's generous gesture but in the event a large proportion of the loan was forgiven.

Interestingly the original purpose of the facility soon came second place to its use as a "village hall".

 

 

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