How Heapey and Wheelton Village Hall came into being!How it started.Early 1980’s, the Chairman of Wheelton Parish Council, Cllr. Jess Turner, called a public meeting for residents of Heapey and Wheelton interested in trying to create a Village Hall facility. One of the main reasons for this was that the villages were growing in size largely due to the newly built Millbrook Close on the original site of the old cotton mill in Wheelton.At this meeting , a steering committee was formed consisting of 9 members whose remit was to search out premises which might be suitable for conversion to a village hall where various groups would be able to meet for social, educational and recreational purposes How the steering committee raised money to fund the acquisition of a venue to provide village hall facilities.1st event was a Village Bonfire held on Black Lion Farm field, Blackburn Road, Heapey which proved to be a resounding success raising nearly £400.Other functions included dances, socials, and folk nights which mostly took place at The Howard Arms, Whittle-le-Woods. This venue became no longer available to the steering committee when it was due to be demolished and sold for building purposes. The site is now the small estate off Dark Lane known locally as Whittle Springs.The Village FeteDue to the success of the Bonfire night, a Village Fete was planned to take place and held on the same field. This was a huge village project which was repeated for a large number of years, only ceasing, approximately in 2007, when the farmer was no longer able to allow the committee the use of his field.‘Through the Villages’ race which has proved highly popular over the time and provided much needed funds for the retention of the village hall.Chorley Carnival floats.Families involved in raising monies to create a village hall for the parishes of Heapey and Wheelton also produced ‘floats’ which were entered into the Chorley Carnival Parade raising the profile of the Village Hall by so doing and winning the ‘Best Float’ category every time.
Other possible venues explored for use as a Village Hall.
The Steering committee found out that this venue was deemed ‘surplus to requirements’ by L.C.C. when the Conservative Central Government allowed local authorities to sell-off any building or playing fields which fell into this category. There was outline planning permission for the building to be demolished and 2 bungalows to be built in its place.Steering committee negotiated with L.C.C. to allow the villages to acquire this with the express intention of making it into the village hall.The committee worked with the Community Council of Lancashire’s Daniel Pearson, who helped us draw up a constitution for a village hall. For this to be agreed it was necessary for the steering committee to obtain indications of which groups would be willing to use the facility if it came into being. These groups included Playgroup, Mums and Tots, Martial Arts notably Aikido, Karate and Judo, badminton, Parish Council of Wheelton, Keep Fit, Brownies and Guides, Cubs and Scouts, and a much requested, Youth Club. An independent building survey was done to value the building and it was agreed to go ahead with its purchase for the villagers of Heapey and Wheelton. The price of the building was the least that L.C.C. could charge because of government guidelines associated with any sale determined as ‘surplus to requirements’ ie. £20,000. The steering committee secured various grants to aid the purchase receiving 50% of purchasing price from L.C.C. and 25% from Chorley Borough Council.The two Parish Councils then agreed to support the village hall by also giving grants which were initially borrowed and then repaid over a period of time from the precept
Before the building could be converted into a village hall, ’a change of use’ of the building had to be obtained from Lancashire County Council which resulted in new planning conditions being placed on the use of the village hall ie. to provide car-parking spaces and also undertake to minimise noise nuisance to the surrounding neighbourhood. This put an increased financial burden on the committee and together with costs of renovating and bringing the building up to standard, necessitated in forcing the committee to introduce improvements over a period of time as and when they could obtain or raise the finance to do so. It was agreed that the rooms of the building should be phased into use. The main hall floor needed attention to cover the sunken tiled areas previously used as ‘wet’ areas when the building was a school. The small hall floor needed repair where it had suffered from dry rot but this was easily remedied and the room was brought into use.. It was decided that the committee should concentrate upon getting the main hall and the room adjoining West View property, into use as quickly as possible and to continue fund-raising to accommodate future improvements and refurbishments.The room adjoining the property on West View, was in the best overall condition and it was decided to allow Playgroup to move from the small hall into there as a permanent arrangement. This complied with the new planning conditions because the room would only be in use during similar hours as it was when it was still a school and therefore not create any additional noise nuisance for the neighbours outside school times. It was agreed that the room would not be hired out in the evening to support this decision.Gradually, monies were raised and the other areas of the village hall were able to be used. Fund-raising is still important to enable refurbishment, renovation and improvements to take place.
The main objectives govern the activities that take place there and are designed to provide educational, recreational and social events for the local community. The committee is a registered charity with its own constitution and holds an AGM every year in late September or early October and meets once per month to discuss the day-to-day running and maintenance of the hall. The secretary and treasurer are appointed at the AGM and the chairperson is voted in at the first meeting held after the AGM. The monthly meetings provide a platform for the committee to discuss the day-to-day smooth running of the hall, ensuring that it is fully maintained, managed, insured, and financially stable. If there is anyone reading this who feels that they would be interested in joining the committee, please get in touch via the website.
The committee is always keen to attract and welcome new volunteers so please contact them for further information. As well as a management committee, the Village Hall also needs a group of volunteers to act on a social committee. Some reading this might not want to be involved in the management of the hall but feel that they would be interested in offering to help with social activities so, again, please get in touch if you feel that you have something to offer