The Addison Centre

The History of the Addison Centre

After the second world war, and into the 1950’s, a group of local Councillors, business men and community minded people felt that Kempston needed a new hall.  The (now demolished) Parochial Hall in Bunyan Road  was out dated and belonged to the Church of England.

A Committee was formed and it was decided to call itself “The Victory Hall Fund Committee.”

Great effort was made in arranging fund raising items, such as, a Scrap Metal Week, Whist Drives, Jumble Sales, Dances, A Mile of Pennies (along the kerb between Bunyan Road and Spring Road), Stalls at the Kempston Show, Car Treasure Hunt, etc,etc.   Companies and private individuals in Kempston Urban and Rural were asked for donations or bonds.

Although the amount being raised was small in comparison with the escalating cost of building at that time,(and as time passed some of the enthusiasm was dwindling,) a meeting in March 1966 agreed the there was an urgent need for a Hall in Kempston, with a seating capacity of about 400, and Mr. Arthur Basen , ( the then Sub-Postmaster of Kempston Newtown Post Office ), was asked to approach Kempston Urban District Council on a proposal to erect a Hall in the park, preferably on the East side.

A Public Meeting was held on October 26th 1966 in the Parochial Hall to move the idea forward to a definite conclusion.   It was unanimously agreed, and a Steering  Committee was  agreed to carry it forward. Fund raising continued, as at that time the fund stood at £6,859-4s-10d.

Mr Basen negotiated with various Charities and The National Community Association for grants, and a loan was given by K U D C, permission was requested of  the Trustees of the Howard Estate for permission to build, and plans were drawn up and contracts were signed in September 1968.

The Hall,named The Addison Centre, was Officially Opened on Friday October 3rd 1969 with Councillor Basil Copperwheat, Chairman of the K U D C in attendance.

The first Chairman was Mr. Arthur Basen,    Secretary, Mrs. Ena Haylock,  Trustees, Mr. Ron Plaskitt,  Mr. Eric Milton and Mr. Clive Smith.  President-  Dr. Cedric Bower.

The cost of the building was £28,350,  cost of the car park, furniture, stage equipment , etc, was £7,300.

At that time, the Hall consisted of the Main Hall and the small entrance lobby,  the kitchen was where the office is now.  The bar was at the back end of the Hall, where the blank wall is in the centre. This was run by members of the Committee to save money, as only the part time Caretaker and Letting Agent were paid.

As more funds became available, a side Reception Hall was added, then a new bar, a new kitchen, at the left side of the stage, and with the help of various charities, a disabled toilet. Also new chairs.

When Hillgrounds Road was planned, it meant the works would cut diagonally across our car park. An agreement was made with the Borough Council to extend the car park westwards and other works, plus some compensation. Later, with money received and a loan, the new covering over the Hall was constructed, thus relieving the problem of re-felting the whole of the Hall’s flat roof every 10 to 15 years at enormous cost each time, thus saving money in the long run

In 2004, due to increased vandalism, grants were applied for, and received from Shanks First Fund to enable us to carry out various security  work, i.e.metaling of flush doors, metal fencing and gates to the rear access and fitting mesh  to the windows following a spate of broken windows.

C C T V was installed  to try to cut down the problems, funding  again approved by W R E N. Since then we have had new stage curtains, refurbished the toilets, new window curtains and carpet to the small hall, most of which has been funded by WREN.

The Addison Centre has always been a Registered Charity, run by a Voluntary Committee, is owned by the people in Kempston, NOT by the Council, is open to Kempston Residents for election at the Annual General Meeting in October,   The members of the  Kempston Community Association Committee  give their time for the good of the Community, unfortunately, most of us are getting slightly senior, but then no one these days seems to be as interested in the Community as when we  restarted it all in 1966, ( that is when I got involved ) so we carry on regardless.

The current Officers of the Hall are- President- Dr. Tony Barber.   Chairman-Mrs. Pat Buttrum.

Vice Chairman-Mr. Clive Smith, who are also the Trustees of the Association.

The current Hall Manager is Mr. Owen Parker,  the Secretary/Treasurer is Mrs. Jennifer Howard.

Clive Smith, March 2011