Birdsedge Village Hall

2019 was our 50th anniversary year
and 10th anniversary of the refurbished and extended hall opening

Founders mugA Quaker sunday school  at High Flatts led to a village school - Birdsedge Day School - supported by the Quakers of Birdsedge and High Flatts, the prominent Firth and Wood families. They built a school room on to the end of the row of cottages along the main road, using the end two houses, and adding a significant hall area to the front. Ten Row retained its name, even though it became Eight-houses-and-a-School Row. Birdsedge School was founded by Joseph Firth and John Wood. Their mugshots preserved forever, believe it or not, on... a mug!



School 1908

The school photograph of 'One Perfect Quarter 1908-9' is taken outside the side door. Not sure why the girls were left out, unless they got their own photograph. The fancy air brick to the right of the boys is still in that wall, but now buried behind the new extensions. Note the cricket stumps chalked on the stone wall.

The building served as a school until the new council school was built next door, opening in 1911. A photographer clicked and all the faces of the children were preserved forever.

Birdsedge Council School opening 1911

The Village Hall hosts a huge multi-photo mahogany frame from the First World War showing all the local men who fought. Some are faded to almost a smudge, others clear and eye-bright. All but eight returned. Why such a blessedly low body count? At a guess, because our boys didn't all join an Old Pals regiment together; they went by ones and twos to different branches of the services to take their fifty/fifty chance in the tails-you-lose conflict. They joined the Army, Navy, and even the Royal Flying Corps, which became the RAF in 1917. The frame bears a plaque which reads, Presented by the ladies of the Birdsedge Equipment Club, 1919.

Roll of Honour

Almost 100 years ago a bereaved father of the Cook family who lost two sons in the First World War bought what had once been Birdsedge's school. He gave it to the village in memory of his sons, Private Jack E Cook, 20th Royal Fusiliers, reported missing July 20th 1916 (Battle of the Somme), and Lieutenant Frank E Cook, M. C. 10th Manchester Regiment, killed October 20th, 1918. A third son, Flight Cadet Alan E. Cook, Royal Air Force, made it safely home.

Alan Cook Frank Cook Jack Cook

Memory is somewhat vague as to how the hall was run and organised in those early days, but Donald Mosley told us that it was then the YMCA for the gentlemen, and the Ladies Club was in the little room next door. Gertrude Mosley was the secretary of the Ladies Club - which eventually became the WI - up to when she was in her eighties. In the Second World War, the 'club' as it was known, became a facility for soldiers billeted in the village, guarding munitions stored (dispersed) along country lanes to avoid German bombing raids. Maybe the hall limped along for a little while after that, but gradually it fell into disuse.

Though it had been originally given to the village, the YMCA claimed ownership, so in the mid 60s, when a group of villagers wanted to reclaim it as a commumity venue, they discovered they had to buy it back. Fundraising ensued.

In 1969 the village bought the hall from the YMCA. A true community spirit existed, and villagers all worked together to rebuild and refurbish the hall. The hall held regular whist drives and other clubs. It was the centre for the village gala and (later) the festival. It hosted a series of high profile folk concerts for thirty years, featuring artists such as Jake Thakeray, Maddie Prior and Vin Garbutt.

Further repairs were done over the years, though by the 1990s the heating (overhead electric fires), the toilets (no heating at all), and the tiny kitchen were woefully inadequate. The roof was re-done on the 80s, which was a major expense, but the hall itself needed a major do-over.

Village Hall pre 2009

In 2009 the villagers once again came together to modernise and extend Birdsedge Village Hall with the help of a Lottery grant and smaller grants from other organisations, as well as donations from local individuals and groups.

Village Hall May 1990

2019 marks 50 years of providing a village-owned community facility for the residents of Birdsedge & surrounding areas, and 10 years since our modernisation.

The hall was closed during the Corona Virus pandemic in 2020 and the first half od 2021, but reopens in late June 2021. Please support the events.