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Archive material

Early days

Priory Hall, Much Wenlock, Shropshire - Reflections after the first ten years

10 years ago the old primary school which had closed in 1947 stood forlorn, inhabited only by pigeons. Since 1981 we have worked on its reincarnation as a village hall and is now a centre of activity for Much Wenlock. Monday evenings see avid Bingo players with ‘eyes down’. In the mornings the walls resound with the lively noise of children in Mothers and Toddlers and the Playgroup. On Wednesday and Thursday evenings budding players, young and old, are rehearsing and regularly entertain the townspeople with pantos plays and music halls. The senior citizens come on Wednesdays for Toc H lunches. People of all ages meet on Tuesday afternoons for lectures and other activities. The Garden Club and the W.I. meet here. There is an Arts and Crafts group, Yoga, Kung-fu and Aerobics. The Town Council holds its receptions in our Hall. Wedding receptions take place at weekends. We have a Biennial Book Fair. Antiques Fairs are held. The Church close by uses the Hall for events. Many parents find the Hall an excellent place in which to hold birthday parties.

How was this transformation achieved? Obviously a large amount of money had to be raised. We did this through fundraising events – Fashion Shows, Sponsored Walks, Jumble Sales, a Frog Race, Concerts, Social Events, a local bank manager ran in the London Marathon – in little and large ways the townspeople worked to raise money. Our local councils were approached and we had generous help from the Much Wenlock Town Council, and Bridgnorth District Council. Shropshire County Council granted us a loan on favourable terms.

Since 1981 the pigeons have been evicted, the windows, fabric and roof repaired, and the interior redesigned by a local retired architect. We now have two rooms for public use, a well-equipped kitchen, a new toilet wing with facilities for the disabled. The windows have been double-glazed so that there is soundproofing for nearby residents. A connecting gate is being installed for easier access to the local church.

Before ‘Priory Hall’ was created, Much Wenlock lacked a good centre for activities. Paragraph for many years the British Legion Hall had served as well, but several years ago it was converted into a social club. The alternative then was the school hall at the William Brookes School, pleasant, but often too large for the needs of many organisations, expensive and at a distance from the centre of Much Wenlock. This made it very unsuitable for elderly residents who had no transport.

We feel that the conversion of the old school has brought ‘heart’ back to Much Wenlock. The Hall, situated in the Bull Ring, is close to the centre, within walking distance for many, and it has its own small car park and good parking facilities close by. From its opening in 1983 it has become an important building in very popular demand for all types of activity.