Press Release - Bridport News - 7 January 2005

- New Village Hall Trust to run Burton Bradstock W.I. Hall -

Following a year of careful discussion and negotiation, the new Burton Bradstock Village Hall Trust has taken up the management of the Women's Institute Hall, in the centre of Burton Bradstock.

In 1931 two members of the W.I. - Mrs Alice Fielding and Miss Codrington - instigated the building of the W.I. Hall on land donated by Captain Pitt-Rivers. The finance came from a mortgage whose security was the two members' houses. Over the last 75 years the hall has had many uses from housing evacuees, the distribution of ration books, to Pantomimes and playgroups. These have carried on alongside the busy events programme of the W.I. whose members currendy number over 70. It has been a constant commitment by the members to raise funds to maintain the hall and keep it available for all village activities at a very reasonable rate.

The joint Chairpersons of the W.I. Chris Clarke and Pat Raven feel that the hall is a wonderful asset in the centre of the village that should be run by a committee representing all facets of village life - hence the creation of the Village Hall Committee.

"The new Committee is very aware of the remarkable institution that has been built up over the years" says Archie Mackie, Chairman of the new Village Hall Trust, "and we have no intention of making radical changes in the immediate period after taking over, but we will obviously be looking at measures to attract and consolidate user groups. The WI of course still owns the Hall, but the new Trust has a 40 year lease, and we have agreed exactly with the WI the basis on which we will run the Hall."

''The make-up of Burton Bradstock has changed considerably since the sell-off of the cottages by the Pitt-Rivers Estate in 1958" says Archie Mackie. ''Prior to the building of the Hall the village did have - and still has - the very useful, but small, 'Reading Room'. But the Hall has provided a central meeting point for people living in the village, and coming to the village, to meet and to enjoy events over the years, and it has played a very central role in creating the special spirit the villagers believe has developed over the years, and exists here today. One only has to ask the question... 'What would Burton be like today if those two far-sighted ladies had not put their houses on the line to obtain the fmance in 1931, and a central Hall had never been built?' Undoubtedly the atmosphere and chemistry of the village would have been very different."