Village campaign raises the roof

Residents in a West Oxfordshire village are celebrating after the roof of their historic hall was restored to its former glory.

After raising around £130,000 including a Community Facilities Grant of £29,375 from West Oxfordshire District Council, the Morris Memorial Hall in Kelmscott now has a renovated roof that complements the Grade II listed Arts & Crafts Heritage building perfectly.

Laura Roberts, treasurer of the Raise the Roof conservation campaign at the Hall, said: “Our hall was in real danger of falling into ruin. If we had failed in our efforts to conserve the roof, we would have lost not only an important part of our built heritage but also the central and focal point of our tiny community. 

“We can now look forward with confidence and are extremely proud to have saved our hall for future generations.”

More than 70 people including villagers, sponsors, individual donors and members of the Heritage Roofing team who carried out the specialist work, attended a celebration where Lord Faringdon unveiled a special panel acknowledging many of those who had donated.

The Morris Memorial Hall was built in 1934 after being commissioned by May Morris in 1928 in memory of her father, William Morris, a founder of the Arts and Crafts movement who lived at nearby Kelmscott Manor.

Original contributors to its construction included Rudyard Kipling, Lord Olivier and the playwright George Bernard Shaw, who performed the opening ceremony. Prime Minister Ramsay MacDonald also attended but was forced to listen to Shaw’s speech through an open window, such was the crowd inside.

Cllr Jeanette Baker, Cabinet member for Leisure and Health at West Oxfordshire District Council, said: “It is great to see this campaign come to fruition and we are delighted to see another success helped by the Community Facilities Grant programme.

“It is an excellent example of what can be achieved by a small village community and I congratulate everyone involved.”

The remainder of the £130,000 will be used to renew the hall’s heating system while fundraising will continue to replace the floor, repair plasterwork, repaint and install disabled toilets.

West Oxfordshire District Council
Elmfield
New Yatt Road
Witney
OX28 1PB