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Addison Howard Park

Places > Kempston > Parks

The History of the Addison Centre by Mr. C. Smith

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 decided to call itself "The Kempston Victory Hall Fund Committee."

Great effort was made in arranging fund raising items, such as 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 that there was an urgent need for a hall in Kempston, with a seating capacity of about 400, and Mr. Arthur Basen (the then Sub-post Master of Kempston Newtown Post Office), was asked to approach Kempston Urban District Council (K.U.D.C.) 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, and at that time 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 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. The President was 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 a small entrance lobby, the kitchen was where the office is now. The bar was at the back 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 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 the car park.  An agreement was made with the Borough Council to extend the car park westwards as well as other works, plus some compensation.  Later, with money received and a loan, the new covering for the hall was constructed, thus relieving the problem of re-felting the whole of the hall's flat roof every 10-15 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 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.  In the future it is hoped to install CCTV to try to cut down on problems; funding has been approved by W.R.E.N.

The Addison Centre had always been a registered charity, run by a Voluntary Committee, it is owned by the people of Kempston, not by the Council and is open to Kempston residents for election at the Annual General Meeting in October.

Page last updated: 30th January 2014