THE EARLY YEARS

Built in the 1920’s, the Village Hall started life as the Towncroft Working Men’s Club which stood in its own grounds and had its own bowling green and football club (made by volunteers during the 1920’s general strike).

The club was quite the main centre of activities for once inside there was a room used for table tennis which you passed though to get to the main concert hall. Here there was a stage, changing rooms and toilets where you could watch a whole range of club acts synonymous with working men’s clubs. There was a kitchen complete with fireside range and a large billiard and snooker room that hosted three full size snooker tables. There was then a games room for cards and dominoes as well as a dart board.

Under the main staircase that led to the committee room and secretary’s office, there was a reading room. There was even living accommodation on site with a three bedroomed house, complete with internal bathroom which would have been a luxury item at the time.

Downstairs was the beer cellar and boiler room and a through-passage that led to the .22 rifle range that sits under the concert room (this is still running to this day). Also under the main hall were two changing rooms for the football pitch, two bathrooms and toilets.

THE SECOND WORLD WAR

During the 2nd World War, the concert room was commandeered by the army and used for signing up 18-40 year old men and women for conscription to the forces. The room wasn’t released and used by the club again until the end of the war in 1945. 

After the war the club once again became the hub of the community. It was well used by the choirs of the village who often gave concerts on the stage, one of those being the North Gawber Male Voice Choir that practised here weekly (and still does to this day).

THE MAPPLEWELL SING

Singing was very important to the Mapplewell Community with the Mapplewell & Staincross Sing. This was featured on its 100th anniversary by ITV in 1986 and Brian Blessed.

 

The Towncroft building was used for many professional events, including professional boxing and professional snooker. Even Barnsley FC hired the football grounds for a couple of seasons. However, it was for its community activities that it was fondly remembered. From ‘crib to coffin’ the club satisfied the demands of a growing village and proved to be an excellent host for everything from christenings to wedding receptions from pet shows to evening dances. For many it was a sad day that the Towncroft Working Mens Club closed only to later become the Town hall that it is today.

PUBLIC SUBSCRIPTION

The Village Hall was purchased from funds raised by public subscription in the 1960’s. It went on to be managed by Barnsley Metropolitan Borough Council for thirty years.

The Village Hall as it was in 1952

In 1995 the Council decided that the Hall was no longer financially viable  and unless a local Management Committee took over the day to day running, it would be closed. The regular users of the Hall at that time formed the first Committee and they went on to register the Hall as a Charity. In these early years the hall was run and managed by the United Village Partnership.

This new Committee devised a Business Development Plan which looked at improving the hall over a number of different phases. Each of these phases were to be funded separately so as to allow the progress of improvements to be introduced in priority order. The objective was that the hall should be self-sustainable and so devised a strategy to avoid grant dependence.

DARTON LIBRARY

Early in the new millennium, plans to rehouse the Darton library at the Village Hall were voiced and following a major investment to provide a purpose built extension to house these services, it was officially opened by the BBC weatherman, Paul Hudson on the 15th September 2002. This encouraged more users to the hall and opened up new opportunities such as the Computer suite, DIAL and Citizens advice.

After various different guises, the Mapplewell and Staincross Village Hall Ltd charity (111212) was registered to become a private limited company in 2005. It has seven formal trustees or directors and is supported by a number of registered charity members (new members are encouraged to get involved).

A key part of the ongoing business development strategy is to continue to bring a range of services to one convenient, attractive and central location working with other agencies to the benefit of the local Community. As you would expect from such a community building – the Hall is fully accessible to all with a lift to the first floor, ramps to the building as well as disabled toilet facilities.

THE COVID YEARS

Like many organisations, the Village Hall was greatly affected by the Covid Pandemic. To begin with the hall was offered to the NHS / Council to provide storage space for PPE equipment but this was declined. For this reason, the building was effectively mothballed for 2 months, staff furloughed and costs cut to the bone. We survived through the hospitality grants and the rents being paid by the few tenants still on site.

As the lockdown was eased, we were able to introduce some of the day to day activities back into the hall. The nursery reopened for key workers, children’s classes resumed and we were able to service weddings and funeral functions, albeit restricted in numbers. We were also able to provide a blood donor session by taking additional precautions. The car park became an early covid testing centre when other areas of the country struggled to get cover. After that, exercise classes were able to resume the NHS courses returned and life slowly went back to normal.

As the pandemic eased so the Village Hall began to thrive and plans that had been put on hold for the short term, now came to fruition. The hall eventually came out of the pandemic in a much stronger position, both financially and as a ‘jewel in the crown’ for the Mapplewell & Staincross Community.

FROM STRENGTH TO STRENGTH

In 2023 the main hall underwent a major refurbishment, having received a grant of £205,000 through the National Lottery Community Fund.

As well as stripping the walls and ceiling right back and reinsulating, there was an emphasis on future proofing the room to make it more useable to differing groups.

A new stage was erected, complete with, curtains, sound and light system, to attract plays and other entertainers to use the hall theatre style. Money was also spent on replacing all the lighting with LED lights, reducing power consumption to almost a third.  The floor was stripped back and resealed and the room became a standard for the rest of the building to strive to. 

In 2024 a further £470,000 was invested in the future proofing the building with funds from the Barnsley Principal Towns fund (£356,000 on refurbishments and £100,000 on the library). The charity also spent in excess of £25,000 of available funds to finish areas not funded by the Principal Towns funds.

Much of this funding was structural, mechanical and electrical and ‘behind the scenes’. Much of the investment was made in more energy efficiency components such as LED lighting throughout, replacement commercial boilers and new, insulated flat roofs although the car park was repaired and pointing to the brickwork was carried out.

It has taken a long time but the Mapplewell and Staincross Village Hall has, once again, become a successful meeting place for the Community and the surrounding area that it serves. Totally different to when it was run as a working men’s club, it is still able to provide a very diverse range of activities combining aspects of both the old and the new. It now provides education courses, leisure activities, information surgeries and an abundance of ‘well being’ classes for young, old and infirm alike. It presents a warm, safe environment in pleasant surroundings and with a staff that truly care.

But as well as the Community activities on offer, It is also the home of a number of other small businesses. These rent office and work space directly from the charity on a month by month basis. These include the Mapplewell and Staincross Library, Leap Ahead Day Nursery, The Village Hall Cafe and a whole host of other smaller and diverse businesses that indirectly invest into the Community – for the benefit of the Community.

Regular supporters of the Village Library

The Management Committee continue to meet regularly  to ensure the development of the site so as to maximise both Community benefit and income. More importantly, there is a dedicated management team in place that not only  oversee the ‘day to day’ running of the hall but who  actively look for new opportunities and new interests that continue to attract people through the doors and benefit Mapplewell and Staincross as a whole.

Over 100,000 visitors a year

But the backbone of the Hall is the combination of users and volunteers alike. The venue receives  over 100,000 visitors every year – and is growing. For this reason, unlike many Village Halls, Mapplewell and Staincross Village Hall continues to thrive – fulfilling its objective of becoming the hub of the community. A place of the people for the people adapting to changes when it is needed the most.