Monday, 4 February 2013

St Michael's Church Hall

The ecclesiastical parish of Little Coates was divided in 1933. The northern half (with the Vicar Edward Fagan, most of the plant including the daughter church of the Good Shepherd, the village school and most of the population in houses built since the beginning of the century) formed a new parish. The southern half (with the ancient St Michael’s parish church greatly extended in 1913-15, and with housing beginning to develop following the auction of all the farm land in the 1920s) continued as the parish of Little Coates with a new Vicar (Ernest Clapton).

So, from 1933 the reduced St Michael’s parish needed both a Vicarage and a Church Hall. A house was bought on Great Coates Road to be the Vicarage; it was the nearest house to the church at the time, and it continued to house Vicars and then Team Rectors until my immediate predecessor left in 1997 by which time it and its 1960s extension were coming apart from each other. A site was bought on Little Coates Road on which to build the Church Hall, but the Second World War and its building restrictions intervened before it could be developed.

After the War, two army or RAF huts were acquired and re-erected on the site in 1948. I’m told that bricks bought before the War were re-discovered in the long grass as this was done. Then, in about 1960, a second more permanent hall was built in its place. A professional builder from the congregation put in the foundations and a self-build kit was used on top of these; the Memorial Hall at Cleethorpes is clearly a much larger version of the same design.

By the time I arrived in 1999, this second Hall was on its last legs. We looked at the possibility of a Lottery bid to do it up then, but the users didn’t rally around to form the sort of joint sponsorship the Lottery would have required and the electrics were condemned before we could get very far, so it was shut.

We sold the site to the diocese so that a new Rectory could be built - I’m typing this on the site now - and we ploughed the money into a project to put accessible toilets and a kitchen into St Michael’s itself to ensure the flexible use of the church.

Anyway, as St Michael’s prepares to mark later this month the centenary of the laying of the foundation stone of the major extension of the church, we have asked people to send us pictures as ‘a hundred postcards for a hundred years’. Among those which have come in during the last week, three inside the two church halls have struck me in particular.

The top picture shows the party after the first hall was opened; I hadn’t seen any pictures of this hall before. The bottom two show later parties in the second hall with its stage and its barrel-shaped roof; I’d award the ‘peas in a pod’ costume the fancy-dress prize in the earlier of these, and am told that it is an All Saints’ Day party in the later of these.

No comments: