After the end of World War Two the people of Severn Beach decided that a playing field for the children and perhaps a hall would make a centre for the village community. A place for sporting and social activities for the whole village. A committee was formed called the Severn Beach Playing Field committee and so fund raising was started to buy a piece of land.
For several years from 1946 there was an annual Horse Show, Gymkhana and Horticultural Show run by the Severn Beach Entertainments Committee and held in The Severn Beach Hotel Grounds. Swimming Galas, Whist Drives Socials and Dances were held and prizes were contributed by local tradespeople but often the profits were exceeded by the expenses!!
There were 1-mile and 2-mile races (several laps of a track where Gorse Cover Road now runs), as well as arena events for jumping, children’s riding and classes for Horse Turnouts. One year a young David England spent over a week painting a cart and cleaning horse and harness “but I didn’t stand a chance against George’s Bristol Brewery turnouts.”
In November 1947 two small fields had been purchased and made into one large one of about 6 acres. It was hoped it would stimulate public interest and be somewhere where the local community could gather. Sometime later a small wooden sports pavilion was erected at one side of the field for the use of local football and cricket teams. This small pavilion became increasingly popular for use by small groups such as the W.I., Playgroup and Whist Drives but when the Beach Hall was turned into a night club there was nowhere for villagers to get together for large events such as dances or large meetings.
During the next few years a children’s corner was suggested and eventually swings, and slides were placed with the help of the Parish Council. In 1965 ICI offered to help and so further funds were accumulating for improvement to both the playing field and the pavilion.
In 1966 it was decided to start a new fund to build a Village Hall. In the years that followed great effort was made to raise funds including a weekly lottery, raffles and dances. The Annual Flower Show now included a sports day with stalls and teas. Local firms were invited to send donations and the fund grew.
In 1968 Rema Construction was asked for details and plans for a New Hall and in February 1969 planning permission was granted.
By the seventies inflation was rising and the cost was now £20,588, and grants from the Government, County, Rural and Parish Councils left the committee with the sum of £5,147 to find. Hopes were dashed in 1972 when the Government grant was cut by 50%and all hopes of starting the building in the New Year of 1973 were thwarted when the cost rose to £33,692. A modified plan was agreed upon and building started on March 4th, 1974. It was finally completed and passed by the building inspector on November 5th, 1974.
Held in the year of building the Village Hall, Severn Beach Village Week took place from Saturday August 3rd to Saturday August10th 1974. It was a huge fund-raising effort and a Thank You from the Village Hall Committee. The Week started with a Gymkhana at Grove Farm in the afternoon and Knockout Skittles Final at the Severn Salmon in the evening. There was a Church service on Sunday and Special Bingo at Frank’s Chippery on Monday. Tuesday and Wednesday had Fashion through the Ages at the Methodist Hall (presumably an exhibition as it ran all day) with a Disco on Wednesday evening at The Severn Salmon. On Thursday there was a Swimming Gala with swimming events and Lifesaving display from the Bristol Dolphins, Bristol Police and the National Dock Labour board. Friday was a very busy day with a Coffee Morning and Bring and Buy at the Methodist hall, a Pram race from the Severn Salmon at 7pm followed by a Dance at the Severn Salmon from 8.30pm to 1am with the Walter May Trio. On Saturday at 2pm the week culminated in a Fete to be opened by Dr Maggs and included Fancy Dress, various Sports, White Elephant, judging of the Bread making Competition, Beer Tent, Tug-of-War, and other events and refreshments with MC, Mr Robin Stockham. The overall profit for the week was £245.
Many people living in Severn Beach today will remember the fundraising and the building of the hall. It was officially opened in 1975.
Now in 2018 much work has been done over the years to improve the hall, including two extensions, more recently new windows for the front half and a re-varnished floor. Much work was also done on improving the play area. It is interesting to see that many of our fundraising events today had already been done many years ago.