The original Mission Hall was built using money raised at fund-raising events and from public subscriptions at a cost of £223. Due to a lack of sufficient funds, plans for a sturdy brick-built structure were replaced by a cheaper alternative comprising a timber frame with corrugated iron walls.
The hall served the village well for 50 years, providing a home for countless entertainments, religious gatherings and community events. The community continued to raise money to maintain the building through the years.
1939 - 1945
During World War 2, the Bow Brickhill ladies provided sustenance at the hall for troops billeted nearby. The dances held at the hall were very popular with the young village folk whose lips always remained firmly sealed about what may or may not have taken place.
In 1949 a London barrister, with a home in the village, generously funded most of the refurbishment, replacing the walls with blocks and the roof with cedar shingles. The work was reported to cost over £1,000 and the hall was then known as the Church Hall.
1950 - 1980
The village continued to rely on the hall for birthday parties, residents’ meetings and church services when snow and ice prevented people for getting up the steep hill. The hall was the main meeting place for the community.
When the village playgroup had to relinquish the spare classroom it occupied at the school, in order to provide the much-needed low-cost accommodation for the youngest members of the community, Bow Brickhill residents again sprang into action. Villagers raised funds and obtained grants to enable the hall to be upgraded once again. The work included a new kitchen, replacement windows and rewiring. From that time onwards pre-school occupied the hall until the pandemic caused its closure.
ASTRA Community Projects – an organisation which evolved in 2010 after the village’s earlier successful project to save the church tower – commissioned a structural survey of the hall. It was clear from cracks on the exterior and movement of the structure that action was required. Further refurbishment was not an option; the structure was failing. Planning and fundraising for the new hall commenced.
ASTRA formed the professional team for the build: CMI Architects, CMI Workspace, F J Morris Construction (Foundations, Services & Landscaping), Assent Building Control, AND Design (Engineers), MK Surveys (ground surveys), Liskandas of Lithuania (Timber Buildings), TJA Survey (Contract advice).
The pandemic had hit; the hall was not in use and it was demolished by the ASTRA Community Projects team. On that sad day but it became clear, as the building collapsed, that the action was not before time. Commencement of the rebuild was an act of faith on the part of the community because it had not secured sufficient funds to complete the entire project. Further funds would become available later on.
Foundations for the new Community Hall were laid and in the midst of the pandemic, the community eagerly awaited the arrival of representatives of the Lithuanian company who were to rebuild the hall with pre-assembled building sections. The requirements of the pandemic, to ensure the safety of all concerned, made the project even more complex than originally envisaged.
The community was astounded at the speed at which the new structure started to take shape. The panels were put in place and to everyone’s amazement, it all fitted together like a jigsaw. Residents were often to be seen standing in the road just watching the panels being lifted into position.
The main window in the hall looked stunning even at this early stage and compliments started to flood in. Reflecting the earlier architecture of the old hall, as the new building rose on the site, it began to resemble in part the former building. The similarly-pitched roofs were already familiar shapes.
The new hall was rendered watertight before the winter set in and following trades started to fix plumbing and electrics. Many marvelled at the speed at which the building was being completed and the local professionals on site were full of praise for the skill and precision of the Lithuanian builders.
As the interior started to reveal itself, Bow Brickhill residents were excited about the prospect of being able to use the space. In the months that followed, the kitchen and toilets were completed and the interior finished. Groundworks outside, including the children’s play area, were planted and completed as spring arrived.
Finally, the playground was constructed.
ASTRA Community Projects chair Alan Preen proudly handed over the keys to the Bow Brickhill Community Hall Management Committee chair Andrea Spurdle and villagers began to plan events and celebrations to hold in their new building.
For more information about the ASTRA project, please visit the old ASTRA website.
The hall building was short-listed for an international building award, click to learn more.
The building of the hall was possible thanks to:
Alan Preen - Chairman | Stuart Leeming - Vice Chair | Andrea Spurdle - Finance
Mary Preen - PR / IT | Chris Barrington - Grant Funding | Nick Wagstaff - Associate | Alan Ferguson - Web Master
Alastair Brooks - Legal Advisor | Trish Wilby - Events Co-Ordinator
Duncan Summerfield | Angela Fiddimore | Marie Kozak | Richard Norwood-Grundy | Clare Evans
Kay Leeming | Steve Baker | Peter Willis | Kim Gallaher | Ann Sidgwick
Honorary Patron His Grace The Duke of Bedford
Land: Bow Brickhill Parochial Church Council
Patrons: Mark Snelus, Jane & Peter Lousada, Sally Pepper, Alistair Twigg, Ryan Horne, Colette Horne, Pam Stone (in loving memory of Colin), Sue & Andy Malleson, Emma, Andy & Grace Walker, Diana & Donald Kesterton, Mike Hallett, Luke Hallett, Sue & Peter Willis, Sally Hawtin (Robinson), Deborah & Mike Brownhill-McCall, Jean Taylor (in loving memory of Walter), Lyn & Roger Mahoney, Jeff Walker of AND Design Partners, Mark Ward of Ward Gas Engineers, Ian McColl contract advice, Ann Sidgwick, Mike Duff
Guardians: Grant Kempster (Graphic Designer), Denise Redding and Simon Sparrow, Alison Arnold, Joanne Ferguson, Len Jenkins (Woburn Sands Band), Louise Norwood (Polymnia), Jeremy Stephens, Beverley Thompson, Lisa Brooks, Kim Gallacher, Russell Gallacher, Mary Preen, Gill Cannell, Andy Dishman (Project Photographer), Ann Pickersgill, Lisa Jefferies (Portrait Photographer to ASTRA), Sharon and Derek Giles
Memoriam Gifts: Mrs Pat Parker (Late of our Parish)