Swarland Village Hall was provided by Clare G Vyner as a major amenity for the Swarland Settlement. It was built by the Fountains Abbey Settlers’ Society which was formed in 1934, at a cost of £3300. It has a chequered history, and, as it stands today, is only part of the original Hall. The architect was Miss Molly Reavell, ARIBA, and the building contractors were R G Brown of Amble.
The original Village Hall was built by the Fountains Abbey Settlers’ Society in 1939.
The original Hall (current Hall and Club) was opened in 1939, but within a few months, on declaration of war, the whole building was requisitioned, and the Army moved in. The south wing (Club) became the Sergeants’ Mess, the north wing (current Hall) the Mess for other ranks. A kitchen was constructed outside the north double doors, and the beautiful floor, designed for dancing, was well ‘worn in’ by 6 years’ traffic of army boots. The Army installed electricity.
After the war the Hall was again available to villagers, until all Settlement buildings were sold off in 1947. The price asked of the Parish Council was unaffordable at £1000, and another buyer became the owner, dividing the Hall into the two parts as it remains today. After much discussion the north wing only was offered to the Parish for £450. The south wing became a licensed social club, and it still fulfils that role as Swarland Working Men’s Club. A mortgage was obtained in 1954, on a 25-year term. Keen fund raising by villagers resulted in the mortgage being repaid 12 years early in 1966.
Although an extension would have been allowed, to provide some of that which has been lost on the division of the building, the original purchase did not include any adjoining land, and thus a proper kitchen and smaller meeting room cannot be provided.
It is to the credit of the many committee members, and now trustees, over the past 70 years, that Swarland still has its Village Hall. It was listed Grade II in 1988, but owing to innovation and imagination, it still fulfils the demands of planning, health and safety, and remains a much valued amenity for the village.
This short history of Swarland Village Hall was kindly provided by Vera Vaggs. We extend our thanks to Vera for her long-term dedication to our local community, and for this informative article.