Lottery Blog Aug 2009

Sat 1st Aug  Another week has flown by and we continue to progress at full speed. The plumber is now on site and the old maze of pipework is being well and truly sorted out. We're actually going to have hot water in the kitchen AND toilets soon ! The electrician is also going well, wires are sprouting out of holes in the walls and ceiling as the plasterboard gets put into place. The lift shaft hole has been opened (such a tight squeeze) and it's really possible to get a feel now for what the finished article is going to be like.
David and I had fun this week. We trundled off to a huge auction down at Dunkerswell and were delighted to be able to obtain loads of carpet tiles - more than enough to completely fit out both new floors and the stage - at a fraction of our budgeted cost. Another small triumph for the volunteers.

A mountain of carpet tiles.

Gents loo - it's a start !

New second floor office.

Sat 8th Aug. Another week of steady progress and a chilling realisation that we're now just four weeks away from our first opening gig of the new season. Time is absolutely flying now but we are on target, even though the shambolic state of the main hall might lead one to believe otherwise!

We've started to plaster the walls and ceiling and continued work on the electrics and plumbing. Dave the carpenter has been on site, installing the stairs to the second floor. They're looking good.

On Thursday we were visited by someone we had spoken to for years but never actually met - Tori Birch, the Events Reporter from the Western Gazette, our major regional newspaper. Tori has been a good friend to the Hall over the years and always given our events very positive coverage, so we were saddened to hear that this was to be a 'farewell' as well as a 'hello' as she is moving on to a new job. Nevertheless, she spent time with us and was able to see the work in progress. She also took a photograph of me with our team of builders - looks like we are waiting for a penalty kick to be taken. A fine body of craftsmen.

Dave, Darren, Dave, Gordon, Dave,Tony,John & Paul

Studwork complete and plastering begun.

New staircase up to the second floor.

Plastering the new meeting room.
Sat 15th Aug

Plastering and undercoating coming along nicely.

Safety rails have been erected in front of the main window up on the second floor to prevent any of our office staff accidentally plummeting through. (We feel that this a generally a good thing as volunteers are hard to come by; also we have yet to find the necessary £5,000 to repair the main window so it's a double investment !) What we have not been able to do it to get at the plant which has seeded between itself between the inner and outer windows and remains impervious to our attacks.

The second floor office - plastered and painted

This weekend our volunteers were in, bright and early, to begin putting on the undercoat to the new plasterwork. What a transformation already !

We are also greatly indebted to Bradfords Ltd who have very kindly loaned us a huge scaffolding tower free of charge for a week. This will permit Jed, our fearless hero volunteer to clean the inside of the arch and also paint the ceiling - better him than us as it's a VERY long way up.

The only sadness this week has been that our noticeboard at the front of the hall has been attacked twice by some mindless yobs who have broken the frame and attempted to set fire to the backing material.
One can only wonder at the mentality of people for whom we are trying to improve a village facility. Never mind, we continue undaunted and hope that they will eventually see the foolishness of their ways.

Sat 22nd Aug. 

Don't you just love it when a plan comes together ? For the first time we are now getting a true idea of what the whole project will look like. It's looking great !

Jed, one of our volunteers, morris man, musician, step dancer and all round superstar, has spent a week of his annual holidays, working every day on the scaffolding tower some 30ft up.

The ceiling (not quite finished yet) looks superb, as does the 'stage' wall which he has painted. He has also cleaned the inside of the arch and removed more ancient cobwebs and dust than you would believe possible.


If this were not enough, on Wednesday we were invaded by a new team, the chaps from Smith and Jones (yes honestly), the joinery firm who have been constructing the second floor balcony front. In no time at all they had positioned the panels and at last we could see the full effect.

The workmanship is superb and reflects the design of the existing first floor balcony front, where a new 'pulpit' (actually the projection box for Petherton Picture Show's equipment) has been fitted. You can see in the centre of the photo above. It looks gorgeous now and I can't wait to see the full effect when we have stained it to the correct colour.

This weekend, we have a call out to our volunteers to come in and assist us with the many smaller tasks that we have now to start doing - painting the new walls, some tiling, loads of cleaning and importantly, moving some of the equipment back into place in the office and storerooms. Anyone who might feel like helping either this weekend or next, please get in touch with us at the hall by phone or email rather than just turning up, so that we can plan what work you can most usefully do.
Sat 29th Aug

Jed at altitude finishing off the ceiling panels.

The pace is really hotting up now as the days roll by. Just seven days and counting down to our opening concert of the Autumn season. Will the project be finished completely ? ... No. Will we be in a position to entertain you with Chris Wood, BBC radio 2 Folk Singer of the Year; serve you drinks in the interval; amaze you with a bright new facility and give you a really great evening? Darned right we will !

On Friday this week the local newspaper came and photographed our contractor Gordon symbolically handing me back the keys to the hall. They have now finished the majority of their work; the plumbing and loos are finished; electricity on and being tested and the balcony construction work done. The professionals are now going off-site to give us vollies a chance to do as much painting and cleaning as we can in order to prepare for next Saturday's gig. They will be back later to do the snagging and minor additional works as well as, in October, installing the disabled lift. My hat is very firmly off to them, they have entered into the spirit of the hall and been a joy to work with.

We volunteers have been found at all hours of the day in various nooks and crannies, painting, carpet laying, hoovering and generally now beginning to move the masses of 'stuff' back into its rightful place (or throwing it out as we should have done years ago !)

If he hadn't already done enough, Jed also got stuck in to the other project that we wanted to finish before the new season starts - raising the stage. We have been aware for years that the poor folks seated at the back of the hall don't always get a very good view due to the flat seating arrangements and, as we couldn't lay our hands on the £25,000 necessary to purchase tiered seating, the only alternative was to elevate the performers.

With me as gopher and tea boy, and also ably assisted by volunteer Mike Woodhead, Jed worked through Wednesday and Thursday, partly using timber we reclaimed from the old office, to build up the stage. He makes it look so easy, I can't manage to hammer in more than two nails without hitting my thumb at least five times ! The additional height will make a real difference. When we removed the curtains at the back of the stage, we were amazed to find pencilled onto the original wood panels, graffiti dating back to 1914. It seems that choirboys have not changed all that much over the decades.

On a personal note, this week the fates showed their approval by giving me second prize of £50 in our monthly '150 club' draw. (It will go towards the tea fund for the workmen). If that were not enough, they then confounded the statisticians by awarding the first prize to my mum who also lives in Petherton.(She always has to go one up on me !) Now, if only Ernie would do something.


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John Wratton