The story of the Village Hall begins in the early 1900’s when, although the population was only 700, the social activities were considerable.
The late Mr. Edward Pacy Moon, then Conservative M. P. for North St. Pancras, divided his time between Parliament and Green Farm, Meopham Green. He took an active interest in the life of the Village and realized the need for a community centre.
With that end in view and entirely at his own expense, he purchased a piece of land and arranged for the construction of the Village Hall. The building was completed and opened to the residents in 1913. In 1917 the deeds were formally handed over by Mr. Moon to a Board of Trustees for the “benefit and enjoyment of the people of Meopham for all time.”
The hall became the venue for many local meetings and Village dances were held frequently.
It soon became apparent, however, that the cost of running the Village Hall was considerable and that regular and frequent support was vital if financial problems were to be avoided.
To add to the difficulties, in 1924 the composition flooring began to break up and it is recorded that after half an hour of dancing the rest of the evening was “enjoyed in a dust cloud.”
The Village Hall, just after completion in 1912.
The Village Hall, just after completion in 1912.
The main hall stage, this image can be dated to circa 1927.
The main hall stage, this image can be dated to circa 1927.
Special fund raising events and the assistance of the late Mr. Golding-Bird, Senior Consulting Surgeon at Guys Hospital and resident at Pitfield , Meopham Green, provided the funds for a new floor. This flooring is in existence today and is still in good condition despite the army boots and wear and tear to which it has been subjected to over years.
Finance appears to be the main problem over the next period until the outbreak of the Second World War when Meopham became a reception area for Strood children. For a time the Hall was used as an auxiliary school and in the evenings the Home Guard were given emergency training.
Saturday night dances were organised for the troops in training at the O.T.C in the woods which have now become Vigo Village. These dances were immensely popular and attracted capacity attendances. Ironically the troubles of the world brought unforeseen improvement in the financial position of the Hall, but improvement was overshadowed by the death of a benefactor, Mr. Golding-Bird.
Always interested in village affairs, he bequeathed £1,500 for the maintenance of the fabric of the Hall, and the interest from his bequest has formed the basis of a Trust Fund for such purpose. It is hardly necessary to add that the need for repair become progressively greater with the age of the building, so the value of the endowment become progressively smaller with the change of money values.
With the end of hostilities, normal conditions returned and once again the Hall Management looked for more support.
With the rapidly increasing population and the formation of more societies, it became evident that the opportunity for more support was there if the Management could offer suitable accommodation. Many of the organisations were of insufficient strength to justify the use of the large hall, and a major decision was made to build an extension in the form of a small hall.
In July 1962 the Small Hall was officially opened by the late Dr. W. D. Hasler and has proved to be a most popular addition to the accommodation available, not only for organisations, but also for wedding receptions and private parties.
Twenty-four local organisations now hold their regular meetings in the Village Hall and three productions by the Meopham Players and two flower shows by the Gardening Association take place each year.
The Meopham Country Club and the Meopham Table Tennis Club have their premises in the Hall grounds and five Hard Courts are in use by the Tennis Club section of the Management. Dances, Quiz Nights, Jumble Sales, Wedding Receptions, and Private Parties etc. take up many weekends.
The Village Hall exists for the benefit of the residents of Meopham. It is self supporting and non-profit making. Hiring charges are based to give only a marginal excess over expenditure. The Committee of Management is composed of representatives of organisations and six Trustees elected at the Annual General Meeting of Parishioners. All give their services voluntarily.
The Village Hall is a registered charity.