THE DRUITT Hall in Christchurch has been the focal point for community activity in the town for the past 50 years, having held various clubs and societies over the lifetime.

However, necessary maintenance on the building’s windows and roof have cast doubt over the future of the community hall in Christchurch’s town centre.

The Druitt Hall was built with public subscription in 1953 to commemorate Queen Elizabeth’s Coronation.

However, the town’s connection with the site started well before bricks and mortar were laid.

Cllr Sue Spittle said: “According to my recollection, and what I was told by my parents Ron and Barbara Newbury, the Druitt Gardens and building that now houses the library was donated by one of the Druitts, Sylvia Druitt, at the end of the 1940s /early 1950s, for the resident of Christchurch.

“At around 1947, Christchurch Citizens Association was set up, with my parents as founder members with one of the sole purposes to prevent it going into Christchurch Borough council's hands, so instead was owned by Hampshire County Council, later transferred to Dorset County Council in 1974 following Local Government reorganisation.

“I am not sure why Druitt Hall was built, possibly because the Town needed a community building in the centre of the town, so a local builder and friend of my parent, Councillor Stanley Kermode built it.”

Bournemouth Echo:  Picture by Richard Crease - 21/11/11 -  cDruittloss8 - words by KC - Campaign to save The Druitt Hall in Christchurch ..

The building was initially used as an 'Old Peoples Welfare Centre' by the people of Christchurch. At the opening the Royal British Legion presented a clock, still in use today inside the hall.

Cllr Spittle added: “I can remember a group of ladies making curtains for the building possibly for the opening around the Coronation when I was five.

“At the time there were few community halls, Christchurch's population was far smaller, around 6,000, and located near the Town centre and there was a reliable bus service, so there was a great need, as is now.

“Druitt Hall was then hired out to many organisations, but the Housing Society tended to neglect its upkeep, and the building went into decline. An extension called the Markham Room was burnt down and never replaced.”

In 2012 an application to demolish Druitt Hall was submitted by Christchurch Borough Council to its own planning department.

If approved, the hall was destined to be raised to the ground soon after closure at the end of March 2013.

The proposed application would have seen the land converted into community space to improve the pedestrian link between Druitt Gardens and the High Street and, in place of the hall, the plan was to install a ‘gathering space’ including seating and a sculpture.

However, following a long campaign, the Friends of Druitt Hall group saved the hall and in 2014, after much work by Christchurch Citizens Association and many others, the council granted a three-year lease to Druitt Hall Community Association.

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In September of that year the hall was 're-launched' sporting a newly painted interior and exterior, new ladies’ toilets and sanded and re-varnished floors.

“Eventually Christchurch Borough Council acquired the building from Christchurch Housing Society and there were several moves to re-site it or rebuild a grander building, adjacent to the Banks Close Car Park, or on the present site, said Cllr Spittle.

She added: “When the leader of Christchurch Council Cllr Ray Nottage had his picture taken outside the building claiming it to be unfit for purpose and should go, there was a public outcry and residents formed a group and using a donation of £20,000 from a resident, managed to refurbish the building and have successfully been letting it out to organisations.

“Unfortunately, the income generated was insufficient to cover major costs of repair such as the windows and roof.”