Village hall sees a century of service

Oxford Mail: Tony and Ann Allsworth with the village hall birthday cake Tony and Ann Allsworth with the village hall birthday cake

IT OPENED the year the First World War began and has proudly served its community for 100 years.

A century later South Hinksey’s Village Hall in Manor Road is still doing its job as residents threw a birthday party there.

In the 1940s, villagers raised the money to buy the former village Baptist chapel and make it their own.

At one time, there was a rule that no alcohol could be consumed on the premises, but that has been relaxed in recent years.

Nowadays it hosts the September village fete, Halloween and Christmas parties and South Hinksey Parish Council meetings.

Among those at Friday’s party was lifelong village resident Tony Allsworth. His dad Albert was a chairman of the village hall committee and the parish council, and mum Florence served on the committee.

Mr Allsworth, 82, a former supervisor at the Cowley car works, said: “It has done a good job over the years and it has been a big part of my life.”

After the Second World War, Mr Allsworth was part of a group of village children who collected paper and rags to raise money for the hall.

They sold their rags to a rag and bone shop in St Ebbe’s, Oxford.

With the money they raised, the village bought a cottage two doors down from the village hall for £190 in 1949. When that was sold the proceeds paid for the hall.

In his childhood, Mr Allsworth remembered the hall hosted magic lantern shows put on by Harold Atkins, who ran a paper shop in Abingdon Road, Oxford.

The hall also used to host woodwork classes, making boats and other models out of matchsticks.

Mr Allsworth’s wife, Ann, is continuing the Allsworth family tradition having served on the village hall committee for 22 years.

At Friday’s party, the husband and wife cut a 100th birthday cake for the village institution.

Committee chairman Peter Rawcliffe said: “This was a very significant milestone, the hall is a real centre of community activity and it is flourishing.”

Also at the party was Hilary Burr, of Oxfordshire Community and Voluntary Action, who is helping the hall to become a Charitable Incorporated Organisation (CIO), which will mean committee members are less legally liable for the hall.

Mr Rawcliffe said he hopes this will encourage more people to join the committee.

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