Buy-a-brick and help restore village hall to former glory

Little Downham Village Hall

Little Downham Village Hall - Credit: Archant

MP Steve Barclay is encouraging Little Downham residents to get behind a fund-raising project that could see the village hall restored.

A buy-a-brick campaign was launched in the autumn to help raise £100,000 for the restoration of the hall, part of which dates back to 1776.

Patti Quant, who is co-ordinating the fund-raising said the hall needs a lot of work to bring up to scratch and make it fit for the 21st century.

Much of the work needed is to the building’s multiple roofs, including the steep pitched roof which covers the oldest part of the building which fronts Main Street.

Dr Quant said the building has a long history that includes a variety of uses from workhouse to school house before becoming the village hall, and added that the fund is looking to restore a first floor level to the building removed during modernisation in the 1970s.

Anyone who buys a brick – they cost just £5 each – will have their name recorded on a benefactors’ board that will be housed in the hall once the work is complete.

Dr Quant said money has been coming in steadily with donations including one of £1,000 being made.

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Many of those sponsoring the scheme went to school in the hall when it was the schoolhouse, while others have made donations in their parents’ names for the same reason.

She said: “It is a very complex building and work to the front of the building, which is listed, will have to be carried out to set standards using suitable materials, which are not only expensive but also difficult to obtain.

“We want to see some of the original features brought back, we are looking to bring it into the 21st century but in a more sympathetic way than was carried out in the name of progress in the 1970s.

“We have been working our socks off to raise the money we have held lots of fundraising efforts over the years but the most they have raised is £300 at a time, since the buy-a-brick scheme was launched we have raised more in the past three or four months than we raised in the last two years.

“It is great that Steve is getting behind the campaign and I hope he will come along shortly to see what we want to do first hand.”

Mr Barclay said: “It is always good to see a community working to improve facilities. The buy-a-brick campaign is a great initiative and I hope residents will really get behind it and support the campaign as much as they can – every £1 will count and help with plans to seek grant aid in the coming months.”