Amongst the six village halls in this patch, there are three that are really very busy, and three that are quieter. Still sustained by the faithful, still solvent, just quieter.
Langley Village Hall, for example, sometimes hosts an evening with Aurora, and in the past has helped to promote the Rural Touring efforts of Highlights North. It’s also used as an overflow venue by The Garden Station when larger wedding parties are catered for. I believe the Langley Women’s Institute hold their monthly meetings there as well. Immaculately maintained, the hall is quietly signposted on the road out to the Langley Bends.
Gail Stephenson writes in with a description of Langley’s hall sixty or so years ago: “Langley Village Hall in the ’50s had a small library in the middle room which was open once a week. There was a flight of stone stairs at the back leading up to the brickworks and the gents toilet was outside built into the railway supports. There were regular dances and as kids we were sent down in the afternoon with a packet of Lux soapflakes which we had to sprinkle on the floor and then slide about on to make for a good dance floor that evening. The war memorial plaque was brought into the hall when the school was closed.”
Whitfield Parish Hall sits neatly and compactly beside The Elk’s Head. Significant renovations funded by a variety of grants bodies, as developed quietly by Fawside over the years, have meant that Whitfield’s hall has kept up with the times. The Whitfield WI seem to be heavily involved in taking care of the premises, and the women have quite a varied programme of events that sometimes involve the whole community. Whitfield’s hall boasts a public access defibrillator on its external wall. And, of course, the Whitfield Hall plays an important catering role in the annual Whitfield Village Fair, held in the field just below the hall.
Ninebanks (St Mark’s Church) Hall is right beside the church. It too has a public access defibrillator, and it also hosts a monthly pop-up pub evening! According to a notice posted yesterday on Allendale area notices, there’s one this evening. We’ve been to one or two ceilidhs there over the past decades; there was one in 2018 at the end of October but we didn’t get out — our legs aren’t as flexible as they used to be.
These lovely village halls don’t have to be busy, and frankly there’s probably not enough of a local population around them anymore to sustain too much activity. The Allen Valleys Wildlife Group like to distribute their monthly meetings among both busy and quieter halls as well. Somehow the quieter halls manage to stay solvent, the premises are well looked after, and they are beloved by their supporters.
Another set of jewels, then, in the necklace of charm that connects people in this parish to each other.