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New vision for hall

PUBLISHED: 14:58 02 April 2008 | UPDATED: 10:17 07 July 2010

A redundant church hall in the centre of Wells will be brought back into use for community activities.

The building, next to the Congregational Church at the top of Clubb's Lane, has not been in use for a number of years and needs thousands of pounds spent on refurbishment work, including repairs to its floor and a new heating system.

A redundant church hall in the centre of Wells will be brought back into use for community activities.

The building, next to the Congregational Church at the top of Clubb's Lane, has not been in use for a number of years and needs thousands of pounds spent on refurbishment work, including repairs to its floor and a new heating system.

It is to be renamed the Gordon Barrett Memorial Hall in memory of a popular local man who died in 2006.

A committee has been set up to manage the hall project and the 11 members will be responsible for raising funds and getting grants.

A start is to be made on Wednesday when a tidying-up and small jobs day is planned from 10am until 4pm. Anyone interested in seeing the much-loved building brought back to use are urged to go along and lend a hand.

The new committee stresses that it is not intended to compete with other community facilities available in the town, but feels its more homely atmosphere, particularly with its large windows letting in plenty of light, could make it more appealing to some groups.

The committee is interested in hearing from anyone in the town who is interested in helping to shape the building's future or who would be able to lend some of their expertise in particular fields as the work continues on its restoration.

Committee chairman Barry Longwell said: “The committee is not intending to compete with other community functions in the town but it particularly wants to attract new people-orientated uses that may not even exist yet.”

He added: “The Congregational Church, which owns the hall and the land beside it, wants to make both the hall and the garden area available to the town.”

Church minister Neil Woodruff said it would be tempting to sell the land to pay for the restoration but the uniqueness of the two together in Wells must be preserved as a future community asset for the town.

Former Wells mayor, town and district councillor, Joyce Trett, said it was early days for the project and money would have to be raised to help pay for the refurbishment but it could be a wonderful asset.

“People in Wells will have fond memories of when the hall was in regular use for a variety of events, including birthday parties and jumble sales. There is a real homely feel about the building and the aim is to bring it back into use in an eco-friendly way, she said.

At one time the building was used as a polling station at election time and the Wells Art Group used to stage its exhibitions there.

Gordon Barrett was born in Wells, played for Wells Town Football Club, and was a renowned helmsman in the Wells yacht Club.

A long-serving member of the Congregational Church, Mr Barrett served in the Royal Navy during the second world war and saw service on a converted trawler, detecting and exploding mines and took part in escort duties up the east coast to Scotland.,

After the war, he worked as a miller in the old Dewing & Kersley mill in Maryland at Wells.

Both Gordon's family and the Congregational Church feel naming the refurbished hall after him would be a fitting memorial to a man who lived and served in Wells all his life.

w More information about the plans and the small jobs day can be obtained by contacting Mr Longwell on 01328 710491.

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