Westbury-on-Trym Village Hall was built in 1869
Westbury-on-Trym Village Hall was financed and built by local benefactor Henry St Vincent Ames, of Cote House in 1869 for the promotion of recreation and social and moral improvement, including lectures, music, reading, exhibitions of art, science, industry, agriculture, horticulture and public instruction.
In 1870 a concert was staged to mark the installation of the Willis pipe organ, donated by Henry Ames, himself a keen amateur organist. The organ was later sold (1927) to St Peter’s Church, Henleaze, for £200 where it remains today.
Upon the death of Henry Ames in 1901, the Hall was left to the Village as a ‘gift absolute’ to be managed by four trustees, and the following year gas and water were installed, followed by electricity in 1926.
Pre and during the war saw changing fortunes and, after the war, the Hall fell into decline, apart from being used to serve school dinners for the Primary School opposite.
In 1969 the floor was deemed too dangerous for dancing and the boiler failed. Regular users reluctantly re-located and the primary school moved to a new site on Channels Hill. There was no money to finance major repairs and suggestion that the site may be sold for housing development left local people dismayed.
In 1972 a volunteer committee from the newly formed Westbury- on-Trym Society negotiated an interest free charitable loan of £4000 and in 1973 an open meeting gave enthusiastic support to plans to restore the building.
A team of local volunteers dedicated their spare time to cleaning and restoring the building and its grounds to their original glory with the loan used to replace the heating system and renovate the kitchen.
In 1974 the Hall was officially re-opened by the then Deputy Lord Mayor. Two years later a new floor was laid and Ballroom Dance Nights re-commenced.
In 1978 the first Flower Show – now a popular annual fixture – was staged and the following year the roof was replaced. Restoration and maintenance of the building and its gardens today continue to be supported by a loyal group of volunteers with help from fundraising events and revenue from the many users of the Hall and private bookings. The Hall is managed by the Westbury-on-Trym Village Hall Committee and enjoyed by the whole community who take advantage of the many activities held there, from badminton to bridge.
Henry St Vincent Ames would be pleased to see his original aims for the Hall are still being fulfilled over 140 years later!
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