The Upton Village Hall Official Opening Ceremony

believed to be as reported in the Chester Observer

Lady Arthur Grosvenor’s Good Wishes

In the presence of a large gathering, Upton’s handsome new village hall was, on Saturday, declared open by Lady Arthur Grosvenor, and the speech making which followed revealed the desire of all connected with the effort that it should fill a long-felt need in the life of the growing rural community. No one was admitted into the hall until Lady Arthur Grosvenor was presented with the key of the main door by the chairman of the Board of Management (Mr Beresford Jones), and her ladyship gracefully performed the ceremony of unlocking the door. Inside the hall the proceedings were of an enthusiastic character, Mr Beresford Jones presided, and he was supported on the platform by Lady Arthur Grosvenor and Miss Isolda Grosvenor, Mr and Mrs Beresford Jones, Mr and Mrs A Crompton, Sir John and Lady Frost, Lieut-General Sir Cecil and Lady Romer, the Mayoress of Chester (Mrs W.A.V. Churton), the Rev. W. Sparling, Mr & Mrs F Hewitt, Mr & Mrs A. Tyrer, Rev. Alfred Hills, Mr & Mrs W. Pearson, Mr W. Clayton, Mr G. Hutchins and Mr A. Shepherd. Included in the large number of apologies for absence which were read were the following:- The Duke of Westminster, Sir Philip Grey-Edgerton, Bart., Lady Royden, Sir Charles Cayzer, Bart. M.P., The Mayor of Chester, Mr Gibbons Frost, the Bishop of Chester and Mrs Paget, Brigadier Hobbs and Miss S.M. Clark-Lloyd.

Sympathy with the King

At the outset the Chairman referred to the King’s illness, and said it needed no words of his to express the deep feeling of concern that was felt throughout the Empire. They admired his devotion to duty, his kind sympathy on all occasions where suffering and distress were concerned, and he had endeared himself to all his people and the peoples of the world. The Chairman asked them to stand and sing the National Anthem. Before offering an appropriate prayer, the vicar (Rev. W Sparling) said it had been felt for many years, and he spoke from long experience of knowledge of the village, that such a building was most desirable. (Applause) It would be chiefly used for recreation and amusement, and they should remember that these things, if not taken to excess, were good for them spiritually, as well as bodily.

Mrs A Crompton then presented Lady Arthur Grosvenor with a souvenir album of photographs, the gifts of herself and Mr John Crompton.

An Important Event

In his opening remarks, the Chairman said that was a very important event in the history of the village of Upton. He did not know whether he could go back to the exact date of the birth of the idea to build a village hall, but he believed it originated somewhere about June 1926, when, through the great kindness of Sir John and Lady Frost - (applause) - a garden fete was held in their grounds at Upton Lawn, and it was decided at one of the committee meetings that if there was any surplus after the chief purposes for which it was being held were met, it should go to establish funds for the building of a village hall. As a result of that garden fete they commenced with £135. It was so encouraging that soon afterwards, at a public meeting, trustees were appointed for the fund, and a committee was elected to investigate the possibilities regarding the site and the type of building required. The committee immediately set to work, and after travelling round to see various village halls in the immediate neighbourhood they drew a rough kind of plan of the sort of building they would like. Then they got in touch with the architect, and asked him to produce a plan on the lines set down. That afternoon they were privileged to see the result of the plan. (Applause) They could congratulate themselves upon having so presentable and useful a hall for the purposes required. They were fortunate to secure land on the site from Sir Philip Grey-Egerton for a really moderate price, and shortly after that was obtained subscriptions began to come in quite sufficiently for them to have the confidence to proceed further. The vicar cut the first sod in July, and since then they had gone on rapidly. He hoped they would all be pleased with what the committee had done. (Applause) It was inevitable that they would have criticism, but they claimed the building was a very good example of a village hall. (Applause) The architect had done what he said he would do – given them the greatest possible accommodation at the lowest possible cost. That had been done without sacrificing beauty in any way, and they could congratulate themselves on the success of the scheme. After giving particulars of the hall, the Chairman said it would supply a long-felt want in the parish. They had heard very much talk recently of the de-population of the villages in favour of the towns. He had himself noticed when travelling in various parts of the country how in almost every village of any size village halls were springing up, and they in Upton were really only following that example. By doing this they, and the other villages, would have contributed towards checking the rural de-population. The hall would provide a centre for those social and educational movements which were growing in the villages. They had at least one such important movement in their own village, the Women’s Institute, and they expected to get others which would be for the benefit of the inhabitants. In conclusion, he would like to pay a tribute to the kindness of those who had given their whole-hearted support. They were grateful to Sir John Frost, who had lent his own grounds on two occasions. They were also indebted to Mr and Mrs Crompton, and he thought he could almost say the Village Hall had been their baby. Then they had had the enthusiastic and splendid work of Mr Clayton and Mr Hewitt, who had spared no trouble to make the scheme a success.

Sir John Frost proposed a vote of thanks to Lady Arthur Grosvenor. He said they could go back and remember those years of trouble when Lady Arthur Grosvenor was in their midst for a considerable time, and how she lived as one of them-selves, running a most well-equipped hospital. She became one of them-selves, and endeared herself to the whole population. (Applause) Naturally, when they were looking round to find some dear friend to open their hall, the unanimous desire of the committee was that Lady Arthur Grosvenor should be asked. (Applause) They were exceedingly gratified to find that she so willingly consented to perform the ceremony. She had come at great inconvenience, because they knew she was looking forward shortly to the happy marriage of Miss Barbara Grosvenor. They were also glad to see Miss Isolde Grosvenor present. Mr A. Crompton seconded the vote of thanks in a humorous speech.

Lady Arthur Grosvenor said it was with great pleasure that she came back to resume her acquaintance with the people of Upton. Whenever she got any letters from the soldiers they asked “How is Upton going on?” and she herself always remembered the kindness she received during her stay. She was sure their hall was the nicest she had seen, and she hoped it would be of the greatest possible use to them. There must be some budding Melbas and Ellen Terrys in the village and now they had a stage, those people would be given their chance. (Laughter). Miss Jane Hylton Stewart presented Lady Arthur Grosvenor with a bouquet.

Financial Result

Mr Clayton, the treasurer, announced that the total receipts were £1,744. 3s., and Mr Tyrer had generously given another £100. (Applause) They only needed £196 to clear off all expenditure. Lieut-General Sir Cecil Romer proposed a vote of thanks to the Building Committee. He said he had had some experience of committees, and he knew what they could do and also what they could not do. That committee had had a particularly good chairman - (applause) – and they must have been particularly good members, because they had carried out their work extremely well. He also paid a tribute to the rapidity with which they had gone forward with the scheme. Mr Tyrer, who seconded, referred to the many changed that had taken place in the district during his own lifetime. Mrs Crompton said she felt she had to speak on behalf of the Women’s Institute, who would probably use the hall more than anyone else. They were grateful to the committee for all they had done. (Applause) Tea was provided, and there was a dance in the evening. The Carlton Band (under Mr Cotgreave) played selections during the day.

An Ideal Institute

The hall will have accommodation for 400 people, and the floor is particularly suitable for dancing. There is an imposing approach, by means of a spacious vestibule, and there are ladies’ and gentlemen’s retiring rooms. Tea rooms, with a kitchen adjacent, are arranged on one side of the hall, and there is a stage, which will prove invaluable for musical and dramatic entertainments. From an architectural point of view, the building is the ideal village institute and a decided asset, situated as it is, amid such a charming rural setting. Electric light is laid on, and this will enable badminton to be played in the evenings.

Behind the Scenes

Behind the bringing of all the effort for a village hall to a successful conclusion had been much hard work. Few village institutes have been more fortunate in their organisers, and right from the time the suggestion took a practical form, nearly everybody in the parish has contributed, in one way or another, to the raising of funds. All kinds of functions have brought in money, and the fact that the whole amount of the builder’s tender of £1699 had been raised by the time of the opening ceremony shows how successful these efforts have been, and the gathering together of such a large sum in this semi-rural parish is a wonderful achievement. Among the subscribers have been Sir John Frost, Mr H. Beresford Jones, Mr A. Crompton and Mrs A Tyrer, each of whom has given £100. Then there are officials, who have given an immense amount of valuable time. Mr F. Hewitt, as hon.secretary, has used his initiative and great persuasive powers to every advantage; Mr H. Beresford Jones, as chairman of the Board of Management; Mr A. Crompton, chairman of the Executive Committee, which is elected each year; Mr W. Clayton, hon.treasurer; and a host of others have directed operations in such a judicious manner, that success was bound to follow. Already the bookings of the hall for December, January and February are heavy, and social life in Upton will receive a rare fillip.

The following are the Board of Management: Mr H. Beresford Jones (chairman), Mr A. Crompton (vice-chairman), Mr W. Clayton (hon.treasurer), Mr F. Hewitt (hon.secretary), Mr W Franklin Beavan, Mr T. Burgess, Miss H.S. Clayton, Mrs W. Clayton, Mr H. E. Crane, Mrs O. Crompton, Mr J. W. R. Crompton, Mr J. T. D. Darbyshire, Sir J. M. Frost, Mr E. Garner, Mr W. Gray, Mr H. Griffiths, Mrs F. Hewitt, Mr F. Hibbert, Mr I. Hinde, Mr T. H. Hinde, Mr J. Ingle, Miss I. Beresford Jones, Mr T. Kinsey, Mr F. Morris, Mrs C. Newport, Mr B. Nield, Mr S. Oldham, Mrs G. Paterson, Mrs W. Pearson, Mr R. Smethurst, Mr P. Snelson, the Rev. W. Sparling, Mr E. Hylton Stewart, Mr K.V. Trubshaw, Miss E. M. Tyrer, Mr H. Whaley, Miss M. Wilson, Mr T. Wooliscroft, Mr L. Wright, Mr W. Young. From these the Executive Committee has been chosen as below: Mr A. Crompton (chairman), Mr F. Hewitt (hon.secretary), Mr W. Clayton, Mrs A. Crompton, Mr T. H. Hinde, Mr H. Beresford Jones, Miss I. Beresford Jones, Mr E. Hylton Stewart, Mr H. Whaley, Miss M. Wilson.

The Building Committee consist of Mr H. Beresford Jones (chairman), Mr Andrew Crompton (vice-chairman) Mr W. Clayton (hon.treasurer), and Mr F. Hewitt (hon.secretary). Mr George Hutchins, of Lache Lane. was the architect and Messrs Joseph Shepherd and Sons, Saughall, builders. Messrs Wood and Son, Bridge Street, Chester installed the electric light. December 1928