Open hall to celebrate 70th

OPEN DOOR INVITE: Hatherleigh community members Selena Smith, and Chris and Josie Skeer invite all to help them celebrate the hall's 70th anniversary. Picture: CAROLINE HAMMAT

Caroline Hammat

Almost 70 years ago the official opening of the Hatherleigh Hall took place just 12 months after attendees at a public meeting first discussed building a hall.

The hall was opened by former Hatherleigh resident Mr F T Clifford on Friday, July 30, 1954 and attracted a crowd of almost 500 people who celebrated the occasion with a ball.

As reported at the time the South Eastern Times said the event was so popular the hall was inadequate for all visitors to be in the hall at the one time, and the poultry supper claimed as one of the best seen at a ball in the district.

Following the opening £282 was raised through door takings and donations which went toward the mortgage.

The hall originally cost around £2,400 to build with the residents of Hatherleigh digging deep to contribute to the build.

Mr Frank Skeer generously donated the land on which the hall stands.

The 50 x 28 ft stone hall features a jarrah floor for dancing and was built with two adjacent rooms for use as a kitchen and a dressing shed for local footballers.

Those at the opening commented favourably on the stonework which was undertaken by two new Australians from Italy, Anthony Buffon and Ralph Zanello.

To celebrate the hall’s anniversary local residents and members of the hall committee are planning an afternoon tea.

Hatherleigh Hall Committee president Chris Skeer was around nine when the hall opened and remembered a large marquee being erected to make room for the crowd during supper.

“Many in the community contributed to getting the hall built and two of the builders Mr Alan Sandford and Mr Anthony Buffon have been invited to attend the upcoming 70th celebration,” he said.

Both men are now in their 90s and Mr Buffon is unable to attend but it is hoped Mr Sandford can make the trip from his home in Adelaide for the occasion.

Organisers will have a historical display on the day and are asking the community to share any memorabilia or photos they may have with the committee.

Long term hall tenants, the Hatherleigh Craft Group, will have a display of quilts and a farm gate stall will feature local treats for sale.

Local resident Selena Smith would be helping with scones and cuppas on the day and she hoped to see a sold out sign on the scones.

There has been a concerted effort to improve the hall’s usage with the newly formed Have a Chat group attracting locals for a monthly afternoon tea and meet up.

Mr Skeer hoped this would bring the community together.

“There are a lot of people who live in Hatherleigh that don’t know who lives in Hatherleigh,” he said.

“That was one of the initiatives brought up at a meeting and we decided to run with it.

The second group is a fledgling garden and growers group who are including a guest speaker at their monthly gatherings with Feresh Pizarro from South Spore booked for July’s meeting.

All are welcome to attend the anniversary celebrations and enjoy afternoon tea between 2pm-4pm on Saturday, July 6.

For those who would like to support the Hatherleigh Hall membership is $5 per year.