History of the village hall

Five men make a dream come true.

Those pioneers were, Jim Garrett, Michael Kerrigan, Alex Neil, Glyn Smith and John Taylor.

In 1945 with the war over, the men returned to the village. Jim Garrett served in the RAF from 1937 to 1945. He was a flight sergeant on a “Liberator” and was an air gunner serving in India S.E.A.C (South East Asia Command). Sometime in 1946, he was approached by Major Reine from Thame and asked to form a branch of the British Legion with the four villages of Ickford, Shabbington, Tiddington and Worminghall.

Social evenings were organised in a “Nissen Hut” in Thame on a location now known as “The Cattle Market”. Ickford had no social centre and without that the life of even a small community can be deadly dull. A village hall had been talked of for years, but nothing was done about it until Alex Neil, a farmer’s son delivering milk at the home of newcomers to the village, Sir Francis and Lady Floud, unfolded his “dream” as he called it, of a Village Hall. “A grand idea” said Lady Floud, “We’ll form a committee at once!” A public meeting was held in Ickford School. It was decided against buying a Nissen hut which, at the time “Oakley Camp” was selling off, and try to build a village hall.

Ickford was stirred with enthusiasm, but disillusion followed. Permits to build and for building materials had to be obtained, money had to be raised. The £600.00 already raised was woefully inadequate.

Sir Floud, who worked in the Government, negotiated all the obstacles successfully and obtained a grant of £ 1050.00 from the Ministry of Education. Mr Mace of the “Grange” donated a parcel of land and Lawrence Dale & Son, architects in Oxford, promised to oversee the project throughout.

The award-winning design for the hall was devised by the architects specifically with amateur workmen in mind. There were only four skilled men, two bricklayers, a carpenter and a plumber but under their guidance and the supervision of the architects, the work went steadily ahead. Perhaps the most inspiring example came from a one-armed ex-Serviceman, Harry Bunce. The only paid labour was for two men temporarily employed to lay cedar wood shingles on the roof. It took from 1948 to 1950 with some of the men working through their holidays, evenings and week-ends. Lady Floud a keen painter contributed a mural painting showing the volunteers at work in the hall. The painting still has pride of place in the hall.

The first event held in the hall was a social evening for the village. There were two full sized billiard tables, two table-tennis tables, darts and other games. The School used the hall at times as an extra classroom and the Doctor held his surgery on Monday evenings. The Cricket Club used the hall at weekends for their teas.

(Information edited from articles by Ivy Garrett, Fenner Brockway, Daily Mirror, Oxford Mail)