Lottery Blog-July 2009



In 2009 we were lucky enough to win a grant from the National Lottery ''People''s Millions'' fund. Over the course of ten never to be repeated weeks, volunteers and paid workers transformed the battered old hall into a venue to be proud of. We kept a diary of our efforts.

Sat 28th June

So to work we go. No turning back now ! We have one week to remove twenty years worth of accumulated rubbish from the balcony, demolish the upstairs office, remove a couple of toilet walls and leave everything in a fit state for the builders to come in and start work next week.

I''m really happy and not a little relieved to be finally doing something. The planning stage is fine, but nothing beats actually taking a large lump hammer and demolishing a wall or two. This morning was a great testament to our fine band of volunteers. I had asked for some help, but didn''t have a clue as to whether anyone would actually turn up. Of course they did, and didn''t they work hard too ! Three sweaty hours later we took a well deserved break for a photo opportunity.

2pm. A great start - we''ve shifted everything, demolished the office, salvaged the timber framework to re-use when we build the stage and managed not to break anything vital

The upstairs office ! 

My band of heroes. (slight camera shake due to fatigue )

Sat 4th July

It''s been a long, hot and strenuous week as Ann, David, Peter, Brian, John and myself (Tony) have been battering seven bells out of the hall prior to the builders coming in to do the refurbishment. To save money on the contract we have agreed to do much of the preparatory work, involving the demolition of the toilets (yuk!); total clearance of the balcony area; creation of the necessary ''hole'' in the balcony floor for the lift to go through and the removal of part of the stud walling between the loos and the hall itself. Trust us to have to do it during the hottest week of the year so far !  But, we''ve achieved the result that we required. We can take tomorrow off with clear consciences and aching limbs prior to meeting with the builder for a handover meeting next week.

The cleared balcony prior to the ''lift hole'' being cut. It''s a lovely space now, almost a shame to have to rebuild up here.

Sat 18th July  What a joy to see Gordon Allen - our builder, his son Darren and their co-workers on site. A splendid team who are impressing us daily with their enthusiasm and progress.

Since I stumbled on the old plans for the balcony some four years ago, I have regularly been found wandering around upstairs with a wistful ''Oooh, if only'' look on my face as I dreamed of what might be ...... if only we had the money. Now, that dream is taking shape and I'm just thrilled.
We've had a couple of scares along the way this past week or so - an unforseen beam (the green one in pic 3) across the gap where the lift shaft is due to go frightened us somewhat, but the good news is that the lift 'just' fits and the beam will provide added support. The other, even larger, scare was when we lifted the floor to look at the foundations under the original balcony support columns and initially thought that they weren't correctly done. To our huge relief, the structural experts re-assured us that we wouldn't need to spend additional (thousands of) pounds in unforseen works !
So, although a lot of the work this past fortnight has been either underground or behind the scenes, the photos below show progress, the most visible being the new second floor starting to take shape.

A hall full of building bits


Demolished wall of the old loos

Temporary plumbing or piece of modern art ?

Sat 25th July  A fantastic week - which is more than we can say about the weather! Fortunately, we''re working inside so progress has been good.

The second floor has now been joisted out and the office walls are already going up - even though there are no stairs yet in place. (The stair manufacturer has a bit of a challenge on his hands because of the way the ceiling angles inward - he has to make sure that we don't bang our heads going up !)

The concrete foundations for the lift are in place and the wall between the ladies loos and the hall is once more back in place. The new 'improved' ladies should be good when finished! Ditto the gents up on the first floor, although as yet only the studding is in place.

We took delivery of a whole lorry load of acoustic insulation to go into the walls so office staff will be able to work in peace once this is all finished, which is more than we've been able to say this week. Our noble volunteers crowded onto the stage (the only bit of the hall we're allowed into for Health and Safety reasons) and spent several days 'stuffing', addressing and stamping more than 1,800 envelopes containing the new Autumn seasons programme. All this amidst the dust and noise of construction !

In order to save on costs, we have been doing some of the work wherever possible. This week, David and I agreed that we would do the 'dirty' work in getting the new power supply cables from the fuse board (in the artistes dressing room) through to the opposite corner of the hall where the electrician will need them to connect the lift, second floor ring main and sound circuits. This entailed going under the floor and threading three extremely heavy cables through to where they will be needed. Now, there is less than 60cm headroom under the floor and there are several supporting walls which we had to get the cables through. David, being the smaller was the true hero of the day(s) and worked in extremely cramped surroundings - not too dusty for a chap with two replaced kneecaps !! I'll never be able to watch 'The Great Escape' in the same way ever again.






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