Batford Community Hall

By Geoff Woodward, c2004 - and later comments

Batford Cash Stores, 119 Lower Luton Road, 1971. Credit: Scan 16204 from slide in LHS archives

Back in 1936 it was felt there was a need for a community hall in Batford and so a committee was set up with a view to raising funds for one. A plot of land on the corner of Lower Luton Road and Common Lane opposite Batford Mill was donated by local land owner Mr Dolphin Smith (now the site of Lea Springs, previously Leacroft sheltered flats). However, the Second World War intervened and everything stopped, and the money raised thus far was donated to the fund to build a new ward at the Red House Hospital in Carlton Road.

After the war a meeting place was needed even more and so in 1946 Eric Edwards who lived in Lower Luton Road and ran Batford Cash Stores Newsagents revived the fund raising efforts and to serve as a memorial to those who died in the war.

Flower Shows

The first idea was for Batford Flower Show held in 1946 in the field off Lower Luton Road where Hill Close now stands, and with Mr Hardy’s house close by, water was available. The third show was held on Saturday 14th August 1948 and was opened at 2.30pm by Mr Gingell, a councillor who could get things done or did it himself and financed it.

Planning permission was sought for a hall but was refused and interest flagged after this. Again Eric Edwards came to the fore in 1956 and the Batford Shows started again as the Batford Flower Show and Fete the following year on land again donated by Mr Dolphin Smith for a church in Station Road near to Coldharbour Lane. They were held on:

  • 24 August 1957
  • 23 August 1958
  • 22 August 1959
  • 20 August 1960
  • 19 August 1961
  • 18 August 1962
  • 31 August 1963
  • Plans become reality

In 1959 it was announced that plans for a hall were now real. A lease on a plot of land in the area being redeveloped from the old prisoner of war camp off Common Lane was leased from HUDC in 1960. Local architect Pat Wilson of Salisbury Road designed the building and work started using volunteers and generous donations from local builders’ merchant Douglas Baulk and a lot of hard work by local people digging and on building work.

The first stage opened in September 1961 – Common Room, kitchen and toilets. Mabel Fruen was the first caretaker living within sight of the hall, in Roundfield Avenue and carried on for 17 years until giving up in March 1978.

Batford memorial hall meeting September 1961 My father Bob Cain far right. Credit: Peter Cain

The Second Harpenden Scouts also started building a headquarters alongside the Memorial Hall and both groups assisted each other until the second hall was completed at a cost of £4000 and opened on Saturday 29th August 1964.

Postscript – with information from Old Harpenden Facebook page:

Readers of the first draft of this page have contributed photos and memories of the early years:

Alison Quinn had found trophies in the East Harpenden Gardening Club HQ (now returned to the Hall) relating to the Flower Shows

1959, a Challenge Cup, presented by W T Smith & Sons. Credit: Alison Quinn




Batford Show, The Almagam Challenge Cup, presented by Electric Hose & Rubber Co. Credit: Alison Quinn







Wendy Shadbolt recalls that “My son and his friend Steve Mayes got 1st prize in the wild flower class in the Batford flower show. Also Batford school had an allotment with Mrs Nettie by the hall: they all had so much fun. That is the Batford we all knew.” (Mrs Joyce Nettie was Geoffrey Ackroyd’s sister)

Cup presented to the Batford Memorial committee by T Bigg. Credit: Alison Quinn

A third cup was presented to Batford Memorial Hall Committee by T Bigg Esq. The names on the bottom are: 1975 Mr E Field; 1976 Mr E Field; 1977 H(arold) Johnson; 1978 T Green; 1981 Mrs Olive Pay and 1989 Mrs Olive Howe, but it is not clear why they are mentioned. Peter Cain’s father Bob had served in the opening years (see photo above). Pauline Chapman recalls that “My mum was on the original committee along with Rose Goode and several others to raise money for the hall. In later years mum would go round there and do internal painting to try and save the hall funds some money.”

Pauline Chapman, Linda Hill and Sue Andrews remember the youth club, and having their wedding receptions there in 1973 (Pauline) and 1976 (Linda and Sue). Was there a connection?

Ernie Almond, who was on the committee for some years during the time of the Flower Shows and Fete and maintaining the actual building. “Once it was complete, I ran film mornings on Saturdays that were quite popular (and remembered by Pauline Chapman). I’m very proud that my first attempt (ahem!) at tiling was under the supervision of Frank (?) in the gents toilets!”

Tallents Crescent Nursery Group beside the sandpit. Credit: Dawn Bradbury

Dawn Bradbury recalls many happy memories working at Tallents Crescent Nursery Group, from 1967.

Comments about this page

  • In 1963 I joined the the youth club at Batford Community Hall. Roger Bracey and Dave Ward were the 2 leaders. Table tennis and Darts were popular with the records of the then pop music being played on a record player. Dave Richardson was a keen audio person who updated the sound system. After a few years a Bedford CA van with side windows and room for 10 or so people was purchased which enabled trips to various places at weekends. Night Hikes were another pastime and in the Summer months evening country rambles which usually had a Public House somewhere on the route.

    By Peter Davis (08/03/2024)
  • I remember that at the Community Hall on a Saturday morning we used to go to a film club.
    Children watched old films like Laurel and Hardy and Buster Keaton as well as some old cartoon films. We paid something like 1/6d to watch and they also had a tuck shop during the interval whilst the projectionist changed to the next film reel.

    By MELVYN DOUGLAS COX (11/03/2022)
  • Within hours of being highlighted on the Old Harpenden Years Gone By Facebook page, comments came flowing in – including an important correction about the original location on the corner of Common Lane. Strangely, a development plan drawn up in the 1950s did zone the lower fields of Batford Farm for industrial use!

    Memories of the youth club, wedding receptions and flower shows (and prize cups) have been added to the page.

    By Rosemary Ross (28/10/2019)

Add a comment about this page

Your email address will not be published.