History of Bicknacre Memorial Village Hall


This is a potted history of our village hall written by Chris Saltmarsh

The original Bicknacre Memorial Village Hall was in Main Road, Bicknacre near what was the Post Office and until recently, Petals.  The plot was donated to the village by the late Mr P A H Petit as a memorial to those villagers who lost their lives in the 1939 – 1945 War.  The original hall was built in the late 1940s but fell into disrepair and was finally demolished in the 1960s.

As Bicknacre grew in the late 1960s and early 1970s it was decided that a school should be built. It was suggested that a new Community building could be built attached to the school, as part of the project; so the Village Hall Committee was effectively reborn and started to raise funds to support this.

The site of the original hall was sold in 1975 and the proceeds put towards the newly proposed hall.  Additionally, in 1969, Mrs M A Pitman donated a plot of land to the Conservative Association in order that they could build a meeting hall. However, planning permission was refused, so the Association sold the land and kindly donated half of the proceeds to the Village Hall Committee.

The plaque in the entrance hall of the current Bicknacre Memorial Village Hall records both these generous donations.

The new hall was constructed in such a way that a folding wall between the school hall and the village hall could be removed to create a large complex for suitable events.  This was the first building of its kind at the time in Essex and possibly in the Country.

The Bicknacre Memorial Village Hall opened with the Bicknacre Priory Primary School in 1977.  It’s interesting to note that the Parish Boundary, at that time, was the brook that runs alongside the school; so in fact both the school and the Village Hall were in Danbury parish.

The Hall is a registered charity and is owned by the Village. The Parish Council are the Custodian Trustees on behalf of the Village.

At the time of opening Bicknacre was part of South Woodham Ferrers Parish council and the Bicknacre contingent was largely made up of members of the Village Hall Committee.  Woodham Ferrers and Bicknacre Parish Council was created in April 1987 following Government boundary changes. This moved the northern Parish Boundary some 800 metres towards Danbury to Overshot Bridge, thus bringing the school and the Village Hall securely within Bicknacre for the first time.

In the early days the Pitman room also served as a Chelmsford Library. The room was lined with lockable cupboards and the library opened a few days each week.

The hall has continued to run successfully for many years under the numerous volunteers who have formed its committee over that time.

The working relationship between the School and the Village Hall is covered by a Joint Use Agreement that was put in place with the support of Essex County Council following a minor dispute that occurred some years ago when events in the school interfered with events in the adjacent Village Hall.  Since then everything has operated smoothly

As the School and Hall were both opened in the same year as the Queen’s Silver Jubilee, it was decided to name the Main hall the ‘Jubilee Room’ in celebration of the Hall’s 25th and the Queen’s Golden Jubilee.

More recently, with the aid of a grant, the Hall has had a significant makeover including complete redecoration, new ceilings and lights have been installed and the folding chairs have been replaced by more colourful ones.

Also, if you are reading this, you will be aware that we now have our own website and online booking system!