Transcript of an article in The North Devon Journal, October 6, 1932. (page 7)
PARRACOMBE R.A.O.B.’S NEW VILLAGE HALL.
Opened by Sir Basil Peto, M.P.
Friday was a red letter day for the little village of Parracombe, as it also was for the local R.A.0.B. Lodge, the opening ceremony the new £1,000 Heddon Valley parish hall performed by Sir Basil Peto, M.P., before large attendance. The hall has largely been provided by the local Lodge of Buffaloes, who opened a public subscription list and raised £600 of the required amount.
The proceedings opened with Capt. S. Slater C.C., of Lynton, and formerly of Parracombe, presenting Sir Basil with a silver key, suitably inscribed, with which he opened the entrance to the building, and declared the hall open. At the gathering which followed in the hall, Sir Basil Peto said he greatly appreciated being asked to open that building, because in the course of his political life it very often his fate to discuss at great length all kinds of projects which were supposed to be going to work out in some way— which was generally very difficult to find— for the benefit of humanity, and they very often found that in local affairs they were faced with much the same kind of thing. He Appreciated coming there that evening to put the finishing touch to what was now accomplished task. Now they could see how well it done, and what a wonderful hall it was. It was a hall far more than what most parishes claim to be the possessors of, and was suitable for every and any social purpose. That was a very great thing, because found it very often brought home to him in his life that some of the best people seemed to be always searching about for great questions of National importance and for even international questions, which, although very useful to organise, it was very doubtful, when all the talking had done, if it left much for the community. He therefore admired what had been achieved by Parracombe people, who had done something worth doing. It seemed to him to be of inestimable benefit to the community to have such place in which to meet. Life was very pleasant in the country, with what the Scotch called their “ain fireside,” which was not place. But after all they wanted something more for the winter evenings, and that Parish hall had afforded that little something more; something to pull every one together, and under no circumstances either to cause strife or discord. It was the young people they were always hearing found the country a little dull, not the older people, who had lived there long enough to appreciate it, and had Perhaps visited the busy towns frequently enough to appreciate the advantages of living in a place like North Devon, and in such Place as Parracombe. If that hall did something to make life better and pleasanter for them then it would have served a useful purpose. It seemed to him to make the fullest use of the hall they would have to have a popular price of entry. People could not afford pay much —perhaps the big rich political parties might afford it —but people could not afford to pay very high fee for entertainment or amusement, even if they were given good value. Nobody had a superfluity in these times. He hoped the hall would be instrumental in making friendships and bringing people in the parish closer together, and not on any account do any injury to the friendships that already existed. He might just say a word of admiration those who had designed and built it. Not only would it be of practical utility, but they had a nice sensible stone building, in harmony with the other buildings in the neighbourhood, and the scenery, and he wished them God-speed for many years to come.
Mr. T. A. Barson, proposing a vote of thanks to Sir Basil, said that hall had been built with team spirit. For many years there had been talk of building hall in Parracombe, and when he came there first and had the honour to be admitted as a Buff into the local lodge, had found that the only real progress towards the building of a hall had been made by them. He believed at that time they had collected about £32 towards it. Of course that was not a lot of money, but it proved to him the spirit that existed in that lodge, and that , they had started where other people had only talking. That pushed them on as a body, and he got interested, and they all got interested, and they pushed the fund up to about or £70. and then they got really serious about it. And then some brothers asked when they were going to make a start, and they pointed out that they had not got a building site which would cost as much money as had. Then came along their first fairy godmother, in the person of Mrs. E. Jackson (wife of the late Rector), and difficulty number one was overcome. Then they started their great push through concerts and whist drives and such like, and when gradually the fund reached about £200, members were beginning ask when they were going to start. The deeds of that ground enabled them to put up a tin shed or a wooden hut, and they could have put a building of that sort, but that not the spirit in which they had entered into the thing, and it was also not the spirit in Mrs. Jackson had given them the site on which to build. The result was that they erected hall that was far bigger than required for their needs, but they had looking further ahead than from merely a brotherhood point of view, for they wanted something also for the people and neighbourhood. The question of plans then arose, and their second fairy came along, Mr. A. F. Gibbs, of Lynton, who offered to draw up plans of the building free of charge. The contractors price for the building had been £740 and the brothers of the local lodge did all the excavations themselves, under the instructions of the Lynton Council, over which some difficulty arose regarding the drainage. That was, however, overcome to the satisfaction the Barnstaple Rural Council, and they were faced with another difficulty, and that was question of septic tanks, which was got over through the kindness of Miss Dovell, who allowed them to put the tanks in her field. If any other difficulties arose the brothers hoped to overcome them with the same fortitude and spirit. The hall would cost with furnishings about £1,000, and they thought would come into that hall with a debt of not more than £400. All the money up to the present had been subscribed, and when he told that subscriptions had come from as far as China, they would be able to imagine they had pretty well had to scratch for money. Miss Dovell had very kindly given them the entrance gates. Mr. and Mrs. Palmer had given them a beautiful organ. Stoves had given them: tables had been given, in fact most of the things had been given; and he was very proud indeed to thank them all on half of his “team,” as he felt that day he was like the captain who had led his team to victory, won every match, and he was there to receive the trophy.
Mr C Pulkinglhorne, seconding, said the older people of the parish told him that that hall had been talked about for over fifty years, and it had now been built at a very great sacrifice; it was a sacrificial effort on the part of everybody, workers and subscribers, Buffs and non-Buffs in that parish. He was glad to say that some of their friends who had looked upon them as madmen when they started, and who had asked whatever were they thinking about, had now come around. He was he said, speaking as a Buff of 25 years standing, and he would like say that the hall would be under no restriction whatever, and that although it was built primarily for the Buffs, every consideration would be given to the Parish.
The Rev. E. Jackson, moving a hearty vote of thanks to the Chairman, said during the last few years he had lived in that parish they had raised over one thousand pounds for matters in connection with their two Churches. At one time they were in a very tight corner, and if it had not been for the help of Capt. Slater he did not know how they would have got out of that corner. But came forward and made things possible, for which he had never before had the opportunity of thanking him publicly. He offered his congratulations to those responsible for the building of that beautiful Hall.
Mr W. J. Delve (Combe Martin), seconding, also congratulated their brother lodge on the successful result of their enterprise.
During the evening a delightful concert, arranged by Mr. E. H. Bevan, was given by Mrs. James, (Berrynarbor), Miss Parkhouse, and Mr. Pulkinghorne (vocal solos), Mr. Bevan, and Miss Antell, and Master W. Jewell and Mr. Bevan (pianoforte duets).
A well-attended dance followed, music being supplied by the Premier dance band.
The arrangements for the ceremony were made by the building committee, of which Mr Jewell is hon. Secretary.