Chapter 6:

           It has already been mentioned that Swansea Corporation was very reluctant to enter into any form of discussion on the village hall, which although not now being used, was still held by them following the requisition order. The reason for this reluctance was to become very evident as time went on.

          Throughout 1952 several attempts had been made to secure the release of the chairs and equipment held at the village hall, no undue concern was expressed about the hall itself because the other halls that had been requisitioned had not yet been released either, but it would be helpful to the committee to have their chairs back, and in view of the fact that the hall was not now in use, this should pose no problem.

          Several letters were written before it was finally discovered that all the items belonging to the hall committee had been removed from the hall to make way for the cooking equipment, these had been taken away for storage and would be returned to the committee in due course. A letter received from the Town Clerk reads, "Swansea Borough Council accepts full resposibility for the chattels that were in the Village Hall at the time of requisition".

          But this was far from being the end of the story, as it was later revealed that these items were nowhere to be found. A letter received from the Town Clerk informed the committee 'that the matter of the missing items was now in the hands of the Council's Insurers'. How can one lose 300 chairs and tables, and particularly a Full-Size Billiard Table? It was to take many more letters before a reply was received from the Town Clerk on 2nd February 1953, informing the committee that 'Swansea Corporation were now prepared to receive a claim for the removal of the chattels when the hall was requisitioned'.

          It was also about this time that the press published a report on Tongwynlais Village Hall, near Cardiff, which had suffered a similar fate to the Pontlliw Village Hall, and had been put to use for the same purpose. The difference being that Tongwynlais Village Hall had now been de-requisitioned, fully re-decorated by its former occupiers, and handed back to the rightful owners. This prompted the committee to once again write to Swansea Corporation and ask about the release of the hall, it was also asked that even if the hall could not be released completely, then maybe they could allow it's use for Concerts etc. Their reply to this was, 'that it was not practicable to allow the use of the hall for occasional use'.

          The committee were of the opinion that 'this letter had a note of finality about it', and a proposal was made that they seek legal advice on the matter. No further progress was made until, in November, a letter was received from the Swansea Borough Solicitor asking for discussions on the renewal of the lease on the hall, this matter was put in the hands of the committee's soicitor.

          Another year had passed and although Swansea Borough Council continued to pay their quarterly rental of 13/13/0d nothing had been heard about the claim for the missing items. It was not until March 1954 that there was any further movement, when a public notice appeared in the 'Evening Post' inviting tenders for the removal of the cooking equipment from the hall. Shortly after this it was reported that the equipment had now been removed. This prompted yet another letter to the Town Clerk, who replied that the property was likely to be released within a few days. And indeed, on 15th April 1954 the committee received a Notice of De-requisition of the Hall, plus claim forms for compensation under the terms of 'The Compensation, Defence Act, 1939".

          At last, after some 13 years Pontlliw was to have it's Village Hall back, or was it? With what must have been a feeling of great elation, the Secretary contacted the Town Clerk by telephone to confirm arrangements regarding the keys, only to be told that 'the Notice of De-requisition had been somewhat premature, another notice would be served in the near future". Once again hopes had been raised, once again these hopes had been shattered, and once again the committee were forced to take legal advice on the matter.

          Although the regular rental payments ceased from the date of the first de-requisition order, it was to take at least a year before the hall was fully released and longer before there was any sign of compensation.

          When the hall was finally handed back to the village in 1955, there was no sense of elation, because on checking the premises it was found that little if any maintenance work had been done on the building. Internally it had been stripped of all it's finery and of course all the fittings and furniture had been somehow 'mislaid'. A mammoth task now faced the committee if it were ever to be used again as a social centre.

          Compensation was received on June 14th 1955 for the items removed from the hall when it was requisitioned, amounting to 180/3/9d, and the following day compensation was received to allow for the re-instatement of the hall to it's original condition in the sum of 425/0/0. Any feelings of jubilation that this matter was finally resolved were short lived as within a few months the committee were to be faced with yet another problem with the hall.

          Miss Helen Harries, the then Headmistress recalls the day when, after a heavy storm the night before, she arrived to find the water tower, which was attached to the hall, swaying rather precariously in the wind. She immediately informed the Education Authorities and cordoned off the area because of the potential danger to the children, not merely from the imminent collapse of the water tower but, "there was enough glass around the building to build another Crystal Palace".

          After an inspection by Glamorgan Education Authority engineers, they immediately condemned the building and served 'notice' on the committee for the demolition and removal of the hall, such was the condition it was in when it was handed back. The site also had to be cleared and levelled with black ash, to their specifications. Lesser mortals would surely have given up at this point, after such a long battle to reclaim their property for the benefit of the village, within a few short months they were faced with the task of destroying that which they had fought so hard for, but destroy it they must.

          Tenders were sought for the work involved, but all but one was rejected. The accepted tender was from the Rosser Brothers who unlike the others, who wanted payment for the work concerned, offered to demolish and remove the building, re-instate the site, and pay the sum of 50 for the building itself. Rossers at this time were about to build their new garage, opposite where the entrance is now to Clos Glanlliw, and the corrugated sheets were to be used in it's construction.

          How many lives had this building had? First a School at Gorseinon, then a School at Pontlliw, later to be The Village Hall, then a Feeding Centre, followed by a School Meals Cooking Centre and now a Garage. This was to be it's final move, at least up to the present day, but who knows?

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Pontlliw Village Hall  (The Story of a Dream Come True)
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Norman Smith / Pontlliw Village Hall 1993 - 2009