The little hall that hosted big acts marks 200 years

Ken Bentley,Shaun Whelan,  Peter Cheseldine, Janet, Joe and Gill Wilsher, Ralph and Sue Lord.
Ken Bentley,Shaun Whelan, Peter Cheseldine, Janet, Joe and Gill Wilsher, Ralph and Sue Lord.

A village hall that was resuced from the brink of collapse by the efforts of residents is celebrating its 200th anniversary.

Kirkhamgate Village Hall, on Brandy Carr Road, was seldom used in the mid 1990s and in a dilapidated state.

In the years since, the hall has been fixed up and has hosted an impressive array of live acts – including The Drifters, Bay City Rollers, The Grumbleweeds, and Billy Pearce – through Kirkhamgate Community Association (KCA) member Shaun Whelan.

He said: “When I got involved virtually nothing happened in the hall. It was run down and foisty and my foot went through the floorboards, but now it is booked almost every day.

“The turnaround in 20 years has been huge. If we hadn’t done anything it would have fallen down by now.

“It’s very much a community pull-together and we still need to raise funds to enable for the upkeep, though we do get one or two council grants.”

The first band to take the stage in the new era of the hall was Eagles tribute act The B’Eagles, who were managed by Mr Whelan at the time.

Longstanding members of the community association have kept the building alive over the years by taking on everything from fundraising to manning the bar at gig nights.

And to mark its bicentennial a new programme of live performances, starting with Thin Lizzy tribute act Limehouse Lizzy tomorrow, has been announced.

Limehouse Lizzy will be followed by the Sex Pistols Experience on July 21, Billy Pearce on September 15, Oasis and Stone Roses tribute acts on November 10, Spirit of Smokie on November 17, and Phoenix Brass Band on December 1. Mr Whelan, 56, added: “It’s satisfying we have something to pass on to the younger generation and we’re trying to find some younger members to take the reins.”

KCA secretary Ken Bentley said: “It’s been a lot of hard work from board members past and present. Without their efforts the hall couldn’t be what it is today.”