Chapter 7:

           During the fateful years leading up to the eventual demise of the first Village Hall the committee were not allowed to forget their other duties, those of providing a social life for the villagers and dealing with any other business of the day.

          1953 opened with some very sad news for the committee, the secretary, Mr Clee, had been taken very ill and unfortunately had to tender his resignation from the post, and also from his position of over 40 years, as Headmaster of the School. The man who had dedicated his entire life to the service of the village, and for the past 35 years had served the committee so admirably, who was instumental in the original idea of 'The Pontlliw Public Hall and Library', and who arranged for the purchase of the first Village Hall, was never to see it's end. Some said it was a premonition of what was to come which caused his illness, others, that without him the committee had lost the will to fight on, and it was his absence which caused the eventual end of the hall. Superstition or not, it is a strange coincidence, and a fact, that had it not been for the arrival of the School there would have been no Mr Clee, and within a short time of the departure of Mr Clee we were to see the departure of the other.

          The departure of Mr Clee, whose inspiration had been the driving force for so many years, obviously had a big impact on the committee, so much so that it was proposed that he be made a life member of the "Pontlliw Public Hall and Library", and to this day he is the only recorded life member. But the work of the committee must go on and at the next A.G.M. held on March 11th Mr Ambrose Davies J.P. was elected to the position of secretary.

          For many years the committee had one recurring problem with the hall site, one which still rears its ugly head from time to time today, that of surface water and drainage. Complaints were regularly being received from the residents of Carmel Terrace about water from the hall site overflowing into their back yards and even their houses. At the time of building of the 'Festival of Britain' wall the question of what could be done about this problem was to arise yet again. It was proposed that the committee should approach Llwchwr Urban District Council offering a plot of land on the site on which they could erect public conveniences, the thinking behind this was that a sewer would have to be connected to the site and this would take away any surplus water and so solve the problem once and for all. The committee were only to be informed that all Council funds had been allocated for the year and the project could therefore not be considered.

          The first moves were also being made to consider erecting a new hall on the committee's land. On 15th of April 1953 a representative of the N.C.B. welfare department made an inspection of the site, he commented that it was a very good one but refused to make any further committment. Nothing further was heard until November 24th when a Mr Penhallurick of The Coal Industry Social Welfare Organisation (C.I.S.W.O.) visited the site only to explain that grant aid was highly unlikely this coming year.

          The first major event planned for 1953 was to be a performance of 'Ten Little Nigger Boys' at the School Hall, but the regular whist drives were still being held, now being organised by the entertainments section of the committee. The entertainments section were also very busy making arrangements for the Carnival which this year was to be held on July 25th, which was to go ahead even though the Chief Constable had refused permission for a street collection on that day as another organisation in the area had already applied.

          The concert to choose the Queens would be held on July 2nd at the School hall, again this year the event was to be organised by the Youth Club, and this year there would be three Queens, a Fairy Queen, aged between 4 and 8, a Rose Queen aged between 9 and 14 and a Carnival Queen who would be aged between 15 and 18. How times have changed, an 18 year old entering for Carnival Queen! The recommended headwear for Carnival day was to be, for the Carnival Queen, a Crown, the Rose Queen, a headress of flowers, and the Fairy Queen, a headress of tinsel. To convey the Queens a local farmer had offered the use of two carts, complete with horses, for the occasion.

          Other arrangements for the day were also well in hand, the Carnival procession was to be led by 'The Coronation Blues', a Llandeilo based jazz band, and after the procession the carnival stalls would be held in a field near the school, the school itself had been hired for the day and all refreshments would be available there. 500 programmes had been printed, and the stalls on the field included, Penny in the Bucket, Monte Carlo, Darts, a Bran Tub, a Bookstall, Caledonian Market, Treasure Island, Home Produce and a Fortune Teller. There was also to be a Best Ankle competition, for ladies and gents, and sports, plus two raffles for a hamper and a cake. Later, to round off the day, a social evening would be held in the school hall.

          After all the hard work, all the organising and all the preparation, the carnival had to be cancelled due to the inclement weather, however a new date was set for August 22nd, when it did go ahead as planned and the proceeds of the day amounted to 87/9/9d. The following year the committee held another carnival, the proceeds of which amounted to only 37/19/1d. Whether because of the relatively poor proceeds or because of lack of demand, but this was the last carnival to be held for some time.

          Following the demolition of the hall in 1955 and with the village now without a social centre apart from the school, moves were again made to apply for grant aid to erect a purpose built hall. The C.I.S.W.O. were again approached and this time looked on the committee's application in a more favourable light, even going as far as to say that they would allow grant aid for the project, the education authority was also approached and they as well were prepared to help with the funding.

          The financial position of the committee at this time, was better than it had ever been, now that everything had been settled and compensation had been received for the old hall the total assets amounted to 1,425/10/11d. This, together with the promised grants from the C.I.S.W.O. and the Education Authority made the prospect of building a new hall better than ever.

          On the 13th of January 1956 a public meeting was called to explain what had happened with the old hall and to inform the public that the committee would be seeking planning permission to erect a new hall. This meeting was attended by 20 people, including the committee, but even with such a small attendance the first plans for the new hall were shown and the general concensus of opinion was that the committee should now apply for planning permission for the venture. Any feelings that the committee were now closer than they had been for a long time to having a village hall were soon dashed with the councils outright rejection of planning permission without reason, stating only that such a project was inadvisable at the present time and would remain so for the foreseeable future.

          This rejection seemed to be the final one for the committee of the day, this together with the apparent lack of public support was to mark the end of an era for the village hall, and only two further committee meetings are recorded during the next five years. However, on November 1st 1962, almost seven years since the last one, the committee called another public meeting, this to explain the difficulties that had arisen since the last one and to re-assure the public that the money raised over the years was still in safe hands and was still available for the purpose of providing a village hall. This meeting was to mark the turning point in the history of the hall.

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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