Queens Hall

In October 1952 Watton Parish Council called a meeting to consider what would form a suitable commemoration of the Coronation of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II. A large majority favoured the erection of a Public Hall as there was a long standing need for such an amenity in Watton. A commit­tee was appointed and quickly embarked on their formidable task of providing a Public Hall and the subsidiary task of organising Coronation Festivities in the town.

Within a year a suitable site had been purchased and the idea of using an existing steel hangar frame as the mainstay of the building was adopted and negotiations for such a frame commenced, A hangar was purchased on December 29th 1953 and in three weeks was dismantled and brought to Watton for cleaning and painting. Plans for the Hall having been approved by all the authorities concerned, the boundary wall, fronting Norwich Road, was breached and an entrance cut to the site on April 5th 1954.

Work on felling 18 trees, bulldozing out roots and excavating for building foundations preceded rapidly and by August 1954 the hangar frame was erected. Having complied with the necessary con­ ditions for obtaining a Ministry of Education grant, notification was received from the Ministry during September that a grant of £ 1,762 would be paid by instalments, providing that the work was done by voluntary labour.

Electricity was installed and work proceeded under floodlights during the winter of 1954-55 and by June 1955 the walls were up to window level and in July the building was roofed. Work was carried out inside the hall during the next winter and by January the concrete roof over the entrance hall and balcony was completed and the stage and ceiling joists fixed. A month later the ceiling was finished, the walls plastered and plans made to open the Hall on November 1st 1956.

During April, May and June the sprung dance floor, balcony and staircase was proceeded with and connection made with the public sewage system, thereby completing the main features of the construction programme. From July on many smaller jobs were carried out to ensure a reasonable state of completion by November 1st.

In completing this exceptionally fine hall which measures 105 feet in length by 36 feet in width, the original committee and everyone who gave their time and money, both during its erection and in maintaining it since, are to be congratulated and everyone in the town and district owe them a great debt of gratitude.

So Watton's new Queen's Hall was officially opened on 1st November 1956 by Lady Bacon who was accompanied by her husband, Sir Edmund, the Lord Lieutenant of Norfolk.

For the ten days following the opening of the Hall a great variety of events took place, both in the hall and in and around the town, including dances, band and choral concerts, a torchlight procession and firework party, plays, whist drives and talent competitions.

The original committee were Mr. V. P. Alderton, Mr. R. G. Durrant, Mr. and Mrs. J. B. Fairhead, Mrs. J. Farrall, Mr. F. C. Fitt, Mr. W. J. Home, Mr. J. W. Kittell, Mr. and Mrs. G. Shepherd Page, Mr. L. J. Saward and Mr. L. Wailing. Later Miss E. T. Cracknell, Mr. R. B. Nunn and Mr. B. Shar- man were co-opted.

Mr R. Durrant speaking at the opening of the Queen's Hall
by Sir. Edmund Bacon O.B.E. Nov. 1st 1956.

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