A busy Darlington borough village hall is ready for the worst of the winter weather after completing work on the installation of a new suspended ceiling and new radiators.
The committee at Hurworth Village Hall had been looking at ways of improving the heating and heat retention in its 160 year-old building to ensure it provided the right kind of environment for the dozens of regular events and activities that are held there.
Reducing the volume of the hall through the installation of a lower false ceiling and replacing a number of old, inefficient radiators were identified as the best ways in which this could be done.
And now, thanks to a £10,000 grant from the County Durham-headquartered Banks Group’s Banks Community Fund, the committee was able to commission local firms Adams Electrical Services and Steve Barnett Plumbing to get the job done.
The positive impact that the work has had on the environment within the building has been quickly noticed by the local residents that use it, and having just held its first exhibition of work by local artists, it is hoped that the recent improvements will mean the Hall is chosen as the venue for even more events and functions in the future.
Originally built as a temperance hall in the late 1860s, Hurworth Village Hall is used by around 6,000 people every year, and hosts a wide range of different activities, including yoga and pilates classes, over 50s keep fit, craft fairs, quizzes, the Hurworth Stompers line dancing group, the village’s flower club and the indoor bowls club.
Bill Drumm, booking secretary at Hurworth Village Hall, says: “The village hall is always very busy, but we’ve been concerned for some time about the cost and logistics of heating it, especially when we host a lot of events for older people who obviously need to be somewhere warm.
“We knew we were losing a lot of heat through the building’s pitched roof, and that the cost of keeping it warm enough was therefore much higher than it ought to have been, so by installing a suspended ceiling inside the hall, we’ve killed two birds with one stone.
“The heating system was made up of a mixture of old and new radiators, and replacing the older inefficient ones with new models was an obvious thing to do.
“The cost of making these changes was well beyond our reach until The Banks Group stepped in, and their support has made a big difference to our drive towards bringing in more visitors, especially younger people and families.
“To give community venues like ours a sustainable future, you need to offer the right quality of facilities, and we’re hopeful that the improvements we’ve been able to make will encourage more local people to choose to hold their events here in the future.”
Lewis Stokes, community relations manager at the Banks Group, adds: “Hurworth Village Hall is a central part of community life that’s very much worthy of our support, and seeing the contracts for this project awarded to local businesses adds an extra, very pleasing dimension to this grant.”
The Banks Community Fund is administered by the County Durham Community Foundation, and provides grants for community groups and voluntary organisations in the vicinity of Banks Group projects.
Anyone interested in applying for funding should contact James Eaglesham at the Banks Community Fund on 0191 378 6342 to check if their group or project is eligible.