History of the Village Hall – THE SITE

Choosing the site for a village hall is always a most difficult task and as the Hall was for the Parish of West Winch and Setch, it was difficult to choose a central point. As people had over the years got used to the site of the old Institute Hall, a position as close as possible would be ideal. Once again luck was on the side of the inhabitants, because a Public Open Space appeared in the middle of West Winch without many people knowing it had happened.

The story really started during 1965 when the Parish Council became concerned that West Winch with it’s rapid development had no playing field for the greatly increased number of children. Many used the Common Land which bordered much of the development, but as the Common was private enclosed land it was quite improper to use if for organised games.

The village outline development map showed a Public Open Space of about 9 acres between Hall Lane and the Common, opposite the present field. Planning permission was granted and the “proposition” that this field be purchased for a “Playing Field” was placed on the agenda for the Annual Parish Meeting of 29th March 1966. Fourteen parishioners attended the meeting, but it was felt that because of the poor attendance, the village as a whole was not interested in acquiring a playing field.

During 1967, because of the way development was progressing, a West Winch Residents Association was formed. The question of a playing field, as part of the overall plan of the village came to the fore. Among the members of the Association was an Estate Agent, Mr David Woodcock, who made contact with the landowner and found that the £5,000 quoted in late 1965 had growen to £11,000. It, therefore, seemed imperative that the Public Open Space should be purchased as soon as possible and with this in mind the main item for the Annual Parish Meeting of 1968 was that 7 acres should be acquired at a cost of £3,500.

This time twenty-six people attended the meeting and knowing that apathy is our worst enemy the meeting passed the resolution”that the land be purchased”. It was considered that £5,000 would be required to cover legal costs, fencing, cultivation, access roadway and of course the purchase price of the land. Permission was sought from the Ministry of Housing for loan sanction, but this was not forthcoming until a further appeal from the Parish Council resulted in loan sanction being made available from April 1969.

At the Annual Parish Meeting of that year it was decided that the Playing Field should be moved to the position it now occupies and as the same landlord owned both pieces of land, it was not too difficult to arrange an exchange. Money was borrowed from the Norfolk County Council at 7 and 7/8% for 15 years; on this the Parish Council was able to obtain a grant of £164 per annum during the life term of the loan.