Chapter 10:

           The month of June 1971 was to see not one, but two entirely unrelated incidents, each of which in its own right could have caused the ultimate collapse of the project. The first, on the 11th, was with the discovery that the contractor had not been given the correct set of plans, the ones showing the new position of the hall, and he had prepared the footings to conform to the old plans. A difficult decision faced the committee, if further planning permission was sought, it would probably be an end to the project for all time due to the increased cost, and if work continued it would be in breach of the present planning permission, and the hall would possibly have to be demolished once built. On approaching the council the committee were told that they would have to re-apply for planning permission but unofficially to continue with the project in the meantime. The matter was finally resolved with the committee agreeing to the extra cost of the new diggings required to conform to the new plans. 

          The second, and more serious incident, was to be the most tragic day in the whole history of the village hall. On Saturday June 18th, after a night of heavy rain, a night which saw the foundation trenches fill with water, a young village boy of only 5 years of age, was drowned when he slipped into a trench while playing on the hall site. Needless to say the entire committee, indeed the entire community, was devastated by this tragedy, and there were many calls to abandon the whole project, that it had been jinxed from the start, and that Pontlliw was never meant to have a village hall. The committee, albeit very sympathetic with the views expressed, were of the opinion that though this had been a very tragic occurence for the hall, no possible good could come of abandoning because of it, however, it was decided that as a mark of respect, all work should stop and all events be postponed until after the inquest. 

           On July 6th work commenced on the actual erection of the hall, which was completed during September, but there was still the organisation of the electrics and the plumbing to be attended to. With the completion date drawing ever nearer the committee hoped the opening date would be sometime in December and set about organising a full week of events to celebrate the official opening. Also the question of the new deeds was discussed and a name for the hall, it could not be classed as a community centre as it would have to serve in excess of 4,000 residents, plus separate areas would have to be set aside for each activity, it was eventually decided that it should be known plain and simply as the Pontlliw Village Hall. 

          Mid November, and work not yet commenced on the electrics or the plumbing, the opening date was set back to the first week of January. At the end of November this date was postponed once again, this time a definite date of Saturday January 15th was fixed and arrangements for the opening week were set in motion. During early December the committee were to learn that January 15th was the date of the Wales v England rugby match and once again postponed the opening date, this time to January 22nd. Before the end of December, with the plumbing and electrics still not completed, the opening was postponed yet again, this time it was decided to leave it in obeyance until they could be sure that the hall would be ready in time. 

          The furniture and curtains had been ordered some time previously but the first delivery did not arrive until February, and with only the stage curtains to arrive, which had been promised within the next few weeks, the arrangements could now be made, and a definite date announced, for the official opening, this was to be on Saturday April 22nd 1972. Before this, the very first committee meeting held at the village hall took place on Monday April 3rd, in which a discussion was held on an alternative to the weekly tote as a means of raising funds, as many people were now reluctant to contribute as its purpose had been achieved. At the meeting of the following week yet another postponement was decided upon, due to the non delivery of the curtains and pending the fire officers inspection and certificate. 

          The ladies of the committee were not content to sit and wait for yet another opening date to be announced, there was money to be made, and the opportunity was there to publicise the new facility, and what better way than a coffee morning. This was to be the first public event to be held at the village hall, on Thursday May 18th, and following the success of this, another was held on June 6th. A very successful treasure hunt was also held prior to opening. 

          During May the committee received its first rates demand, dated from April 1971, even before construction had begun. On June 4th, the committee were confident enough to announce for the final time, the official opening date. After nine announcements and nine postponements, the opening ceremony was to take place on Saturday 15th July 1972, to be followed by a week of special events. The opening ceremony was a grand affair, the details of which are best left to the very descriptive articles which appeared in the newspapers of the day. 

          Their work now done, the committee could take a well deserved rest, it is on record that the committee had met on no less than 165 occasions in the very busy three years between July 1969 and July 1972, an average of more than one meeting a week. Then to their final task, that of appointing a new management committee and sorting out the restrictions in the original deeds. This being dealt with by the formation of a new Declaration of Trust in which the land and the building was vested with the Charity Commissioners, thereby dispensing with the need for custodial trustees, the management committee being just that, a committee set up to manage the hall on behalf of the village. 

          Just as the committees of bygone years could not have foreseen the ultimate fruits of their efforts, neither could the committee on opening day have foreseen the changes to come in future years, the improvements, the extensions and the very diversified role the hall would play in the life of the community, and there can be no more fitting tribute to their work than the fact that while other halls have fallen into disrepair, and even been closed down, the Pontlliw village hall has continued to go from strength to strength. 

          Our story is now almost over, the dream of over 50 years had become a reality, it had been a long hard struggle, a struggle which had seen many hopes raised only to be dashed, and sadly for many who had devoted so much of their time and effort to the dream they were never to see its fruition. 

          In conclusion it must be said, that if patience is a virtue, then the people of Pontlliw are virtuous indeed, they had waited patiently for this day, and now their patience had been rewarded, the day had finally dawned, Pontlliw now had its very own village hall. What was the driving force, the force which kept the spirits raised when all seemed lost, which gave them the power to continue when they were powerless? The words of Laurence Sterne, ring as true today as when written, over 300 years ago, and could well provide the answer;

"Tis known by the name of perserverence in a good cause and of obstinacy in a bad one."


Pontlliw Village Hall  (The Story of a Dream Come True)

Norman Smith / Pontlliw Village Hall 1993 - 2009