On February 19, 1921, the Hedgerley (War) Memorial Hall was officially opened by Lord Burnham with the hall crowded to its utmost capacity.

Four months earlier, on October 26 1920, a combined parish meeting (for Hedgerley and Hedgerley Dean Parishes) was held in Hedgerley School.

Three trustees were appointed Mrs Norris (Mabel – one of the three daughters of Mrs Stevenson of Hedgerley Park), Mr D Currie and Mr R A Ker.

Mr Charsley of Slough was appointed solicitor to act on their behalf in the transfer of the memorial hall site from Viscount Burnham. A large management committee, consisting of 22 members, was elected.

The first management committee meeting was held in the school room on February 2, 1921. Most of the meeting was taken up by listening to and responding to grievances from two members of the committee who at the end of the evening resigned from the committee.

Therefore, the first effective meeting was held six months later on the August 11, 1921 and priority on the Agenda was arranging the finishing of the outside of the hall before the Winter.

The meeting also agreed to appoint Mr Clark who was engraver to Eton College to engrave and frame a Roll of Honour on vellum for the sum of £8 8s 6d.

The Roll of Honour (which lists the names of all 88 men from Hedgerley and Hedgerley Dean who served in the Navy and Army during the Great War) has remained in the building ever since.

By today’s standards the facilities were primitive. Lighting was provided by oil lamps and heating by a coal stove and initially there were no toilet facilities.

In fact, it was not until 1938 that electricity was installed and connected, and a mains water supply followed in 1942.

On October 26, 1922 a public meeting was held in the hall to elect a committee and other officers to manage the memorial hall. The committee consisted of 14 people - a President, Honorary Secretary, six men and six women to hold office for one year.

The Rector was elected President and Treasurer and Mr F J Mitchell Honorary Secretary. Messrs G Arnold, W Glennerster, M Hearne, A Hunt, Ludgate and West.

As no ladies were present it was agreed that the WI should be requested to call a meeting to elect the six women members and this arrangement continued for the rest of the decade.

Mrs Hunt was appointed caretaker at a remuneration of £5 per year and the current caretaker Mrs Hare would be replaced.

Initial regular users of the hall were Miss O’Connor’s Children's Class, the WI and a library.

In November 1922 the Secretary was asked to obtain estimates from two local builders for an outside earth closet and a coke and oil store and to purchase an iron coal shuttle.

The following March it was reported that some damage had been done to the hall by boys playing football etc.

A notice was erected forbidding football and cricket and an offer of a 10/- reward for information against any person found damaging the hall property. Mrs Hunt had refused to accept the office of Caretaker so Mrs Hare would continue.

A further public meeting was held in January 1924 to elect a committee and officers. The women nominated by the WI were Mrs Piner, Mrs M Hearn, Mrs W Glennerster, Mrs Gibbs, Mrs Arnold and Miss M (Maud) Stevenson.

The new committee met later that month and a fundraising concert was proposed. Miss Harris donated a wireless set, Miss M Stevenson proposed having a cupboard for crockery and it was reported that the football committee were meeting in the hall.

The charges for hiring the hall in 1924 were for instance:-

  • Women’s institute meetings 2/- or with stove 2/6d
  • Local concerts 5/-
  • Afternoon tea parties 1/6d
  • Evening parties 2/6d
  • Girls Friendly society 1/-

In November 2024 it was agreed to put off the proposed (fundraising) concert as performers could not be found.

By February 1925 there were problems with the roof and the original builders, Messrs Lovell, had been asked to carry out an inspection. Later that year the problem of draughts in the hall was being discussed.

The committee interviewed Mr Crockett and Mr Smith and agreed that a proposed men's club could meet in the hall. Also the WI offered to provide and erect an annexe to the hall.

Finally in December 1925 a fundraising (children's) concert was held which raised £1 17s 1d.

In 1926 the Annexe was completed and the WI offered a clock. The Men's Club wanted to use the hall three times a week but this request was refused as the hall hire for April that year (7/6) had not been paid.

However it was agreed that the Girl Guides could use the hall. The treasurer reported that the hall was in debt to the sum of £3 16s 3d.

Draughts continued to be a problem and was raised again at the February 1928 public meeting and a year later it was decided to establish an Improvement Fund to line the roof, replace defective windows, and install an efficient heating apparatus. A whist drive was planned to raise funds.

By August 1929 improvement works (including the provision of a porch) were in hand. The improvement appeal had raised £103 but this was insufficient to meet the cost of the works.

The Hedgerley Men's Club were meeting in the hall on Tuesday and Friday and the Dancing Club on alternate Fridays.

At the public meeting in February 1930, it was agreed to reduce the committee size from six ladies and gentlemen to four. Finance was clearly a concern that year as the Westminster Bank in Slough agreed to sanction a £70 overdraft with a resident acting as guarantor.

The WI provided a £15 loan and in October, the treasurer expressed concern over the debit balance. Also concerns were raised by the committee over the unruly behaviour of the Girl Guides but no details of their misdemeanours were recorded!

The committee records for the first nine years of the hall’s operation give an interesting insight into the early years and the challenges villagers faced in the immediate period following the Great War.

One hundred years on, the current hall committee are facing similar challenges with the impact of loss of income due to Covid-19 national lockdowns.

However, I am sure that the current generation of villagers will rally together to ensure that the Hedgerley Memorial Hall has a firm financial foundation as it ventures into the next phase of its history.

John Lovelock is the Secretary of the Hedgerley Historical Society and puts their programme together, which includes monthly talks and special events.

He also conducts research into the past of this historic village.