The Miners Welfare committee took on responsibility for the adjoining Recreation Ground and War Memorial in 1922 for the annual rent of 25 shillings ( 25p in today’s money ! ).
In 1975 , the recreation ground was formally bought by the Institute for the sum of £900, with the Constitution saying that it should be held in Trust “ for the villages of Yorkley, Oldcroft, Viney Hill and Pillowell without distinction of political, religious or other opinions including use for meetings, lectures and classes and for other forms of recreation and leisure with the object of improving the conditions of life for the inhabitants".
By this time the committee was made up of representatives of the local football , rugby and cricket clubs, the school, the Happy Circle and local churches and chapel.
Many people today remember going to parties and dances, youth club, fayres, all sorts of classes and much more.
Well before the turn of the century, the ‘ old green hut ‘ as it had been come to be known , which was always meant to be temporary, had deteriorated considerably and was no longer ‘ fit for purpose’.
History of Project
In the autumn of 2011, the management committee of the Hall and Recreation Ground , decided to make a Bid to the Big Lottery, Reaching Communities Fund, for a grant to build a new Community Centre to serve the residents of the four villages, Yorkley, Oldcroft, Viney Hill and Pillowell and beyond, and so began the long process of consultations, surveys and hundreds of meetings .
The news that they had been successful in winning the funding of £500,000 came in October 2013 and was shortly followed by the announcement of another successful bid to Gloucestershire Environmental Trust of £34,000 to install a ground source heat pump and solar panels.
The project team were Sharon Freeman, Don and June Pugh, Helen Black and Kim Spencer who found that one of the most difficult parts of the whole process was writing the tender specification documents for an Architect . They had six months to chose an architect, draw up plans in consultation with the local community, commission ground , landscaping and ecological surveys, and have plans passed by 18th July , the deadline for the final Stage 3 submission. With help and understanding from the development control department of the Forest of Dean District Council, planning permission was given on 17th July ! The chosen architect, Rob Johnson of FDH of Lydney, and building contractors, Kilbury Construction, based in Gloucester have all been great to work with.
The team from the Big Lottery have also been very supportive and even approved a further £25,000 for improvements to the building schedule prior to the demolition of the old green hut making the total grant funding of £559,000.
Thanks go to West Dean Parish Council who helped with three grants towards legal fees, help with admin and finance support and first aid and food safety training and of course, Yorkley Football Club, who have been amazing, especially when they organised and paid for the new fencing around the recreation ground and football pitch when the wild boar invaded !
The management committee would like to remember and pay tribute to three former members who have sadly died in the last year or so. Dennis Kear who, as Trustee and life president, devoted a great part of his life to Yorkley Football Club and the Recreation Centre . Among other contributions he made was the upkeep of the Recreation Ground and playground.
Pauline Gowar was an active member of the management committee who kept the Project Team going with her absolute conviction that a new Community centre would be built - she never doubted it. David Harris, former committee Treasurer, who, together with his wife, Marjorie, started the ‘ Yorkley Bookery’ and raised over oone thousand pounds to keep the old building going. The Bookery has continued to take place at Viney St. Swithins Club on the 1st Saturday of the month. All three are very sadly missed.
What we hope to do
During the last 3 years we have had a series of consultation meetings with residents and the four priorities for the new centre to provide were:
- Health activities – fitness classes, information session and cooking and healthy eating
- Training and skills – including CV and job applications and business start-up sessions
- Advice and information – including money management, benefit, debt and universal credit advice
- Recreational and leisure activities
The Centre offers the following:
Main Hall with room for up to 140 people or 120 seated at tables, with bar facilities and a hearing loop,
Meeting room with a capacity of 30 - can be turned into a large cafe area,
Baby changing facilities are provided in the disabled toilet.
The whole building has high levels of insulation with underfloor heating powered by an energy efficient ground source heat pump and electricity is supplemented by a bank of solar panels on the south-facing roof.