Ravensden Village Hall
This page was contributed by Trevor Stewart
Exterior of Ravensden Village Hall (courtesy of Ravensden Village Hall Committee)
For many years meetings and community gatherings in the village had to be held in either the church or, after it was built in 1867, the school. The exception was the Village Feast, which was usually outdoors, although no doubt some aspects of this might have had to be moved into the church or a convenient barn in the event of severe bad weather.
Soon after the end of the First World War residents began to talk about the possibility of a community hall for the village. The records do not indicate so, but this was probably linked to the idea of a ‘’memorial’’ to the men of the village who had died in the war, as was happening in other Bedfordshire Villages.
In 1926 a small committee, consisting of just four trustees, was formed to attempt to raise the funding required and acquire a site, but by 1939 from what was still a comparatively small and poor village, only £239 had been received. There was however clearly a continuing general support for the project.
Before his death, Mr Christopher Gabriel Smith of Home Farm, gave a small corner piece of the field boundaried on one side by Church Hill and Ravensden Brook, and once known as Birds Close, for the construction of a village hall and this gesture appears to have motivated the community into greater efforts.
By 1946 an additional small piece of land had been acquired to make the site more viable and a full Trust Deed established and signed. There was £1350 in the bank and a loan had been secured from the Ministry of Education, through the National Council of Social Services.
In 1950 an architect, Captain D.G. Lowden was appointed and the builder Mr. H. West of Newport Pagnell was subsequently contracted.
Interior of Ravensden Village Hall (courtesy of Ravensden Village Hall Committee)
March 1953 saw building commence and on 12th September 1953, more than 33 years after the idea had first been discussed and 27 years after the first committee had been formed, the hall was formally opened by Mr. Wade-Gery of Bushmead, the Chairman of Bedford Rural District Council. He congratulated the village on its undiminished determination over many years and on overcoming all of the other financial demands upon it, some sadly brought about by a Second World War. He also commented ‘‘that the new hall must be the best in the County and that he hoped that it would help to bring the village closer together and meet a clear need.’’
Over subsequent years the hall has undergone considerable modernisation and upgrading but is still used by the local community and is now, in common with other similar facilities elsewhere, available to hire by organisations from outside the village.
Bedfordshire Archives holds the first minute book for the village hall, dating from 1946-1956 under reference Z671/1, and some recent financial records under reference PCRavensden6.