Anniversary extras

Photos from the evening plus extracts from the Chairman’s speech.

25th Anniversary – Pelham Hall rebuild – extracts from Chairman David May’s speech

“The first Pelham Hall started its life as a Dutch Barn given to the village by the Honourable Arthur Lowther Pelham, the owner of Moorcroft until 1921. It was moved in 1923 to what is now the present car park and stone walls were then added aided by finances raised by public subscription. Some of the foundations are still visible today, poking through the car park gravel.

Despite lack of electricity and water, the Hall quickly became a focus for communal life, its purpose being (I quote) “for the benefit of the inhabitants of the Parish of Penalt … for meetings lectures and classes and other forms of recreation and leisure time occupation with the object of improving the conditions of life for the said inhabitants.”

Committee members at the time may not have been quite so sure that their conditions of life had been improved as a lack of a sewage system meant they had a rota for emptying the toilets, even as late as the 1970s!

I hope you’ve seen the small display of posters about the old Hall and the parties which used to take place there. In particular, there are rare images of Led Zeppelin’s Robert Plant, who owned The Argoed at the time, strutting his stuff in the old Hall.

Some 60 years on, the Hall was showing its age, the roof was in need of replacement and extra space was needed. There followed a period when plans were drawn up and plans were abandoned and it was eventually agreed to knock the old Hall down and rebuild it – but not in the same position for legal reasons.

It’s fair to say that not everyone was in favour of this proposal – was there a need for a bigger Hall? could the cost be justified etc? – but there was enough support and drive for the project to progress nevertheless.

A huge fundraising exercise then followed to find the six-figure sum which was needed. The Sports Council for Wales provided the largest sum, on condition that a badminton court was built – hence the barn we are in today! – Whitbread gave money to equip the bar, donations came from the village and the Cricket and Tennis Clubs gave very generous financial help too. All this enabled work to start in 1992 which continued over the following year.

So it was that on September 3rd 1993, local MP Roger Evans was invited to formally open the second Pelham Hall. It must have been a splendid occasion as a 34-strong Welsh male voice choir performed, a substantial buffet lunch was on offer and Bryn Boycott was wearing a tie!

The second Hall is still in good shape today and has been enhanced by the bar extension of a decade or so ago and the more recent kitchen revamp. The committee minutes of October 1992 report that “Norman Cutter said a lift should be added in the future” but this went on to the back burner and stayed there for a very long time!

However, I’m pleased to say that we are back on the case again and have the installation of a disabled lift high on the agenda and you will see that proceeds from today’s raffle, guess the weight of the cake, etc will go towards the cost of the lift.

Returning to the 90s, the bulk of the work involved in the rebuilding of the Hall fell to a small steering committee of four, three of whom are still alive – Pat Moriarty, Bryn Boycott and Dick Hartley. I’m delighted that all three, together with their wives, are here tonight as our guests.

In their honour, we’ve baked a special 25th anniversary cake and you should all get a piece later on. To start the process of cutting the cake, I call on Pat, Bryn and Dick to come up and ceremonially cut it.

Lastly – a save the date request … I hope we’ll all be here again in 5 years’ time for the centenary of Pelham Hall!”

Photos from the 1993 opening

25th anniversary celebration report