Lesmahagow Jubilee Hall

Lesmahagow Jubilee Hall

Lesmahagow Jubilee Hall. Date of Photo; 10th March 2009.

The Jubilee Hall, a much-loved part of community life in Lesmahagow, was finally demolished in 2021. This article describes the history of the hall and documents the attempt to save it.

Bloomfield Road and Lesmahagow Jubilee Hall

An old photo of Lesmahagow Jubilee Hall and the brae.

Bloomfield Road and Lesmahagow Jubilee Hall

Bloomfield Road and Lesmahagow Jubilee Hall. Date of Photo; 21st July 2014.

An attempt to reproduce the old photo taken from the same angle in 2014. Apologies for the lack of an old lady and snow (it was July!). Note the additions to the front of the hall - a boiler room on the left and and a block containing toilets, cloakrooms and a kitchen around the entrance. These later additions rather spoilt the appearance.

Lesmahagow Jubilee Hall

View of far side of Lesmahagow Jubilee Hall from the garden of Bloomfield House. Date of Photo; 10th May 2006. Taken by Rozsa Halls

History

The hall was originally the Burgher and Reformed Presbyterian Church of Lesmahagow,also known as the North Church, built around 1830.

At the 1843 General Assembly of the Church of Scotland, a protest led by Dr David Welsh argued against the Church continuing to allow State interference in the government of the Church. His movement then set up the Free Church of Scotland; 474 ministers left to form this new organisation.

At that time, Lesmahagow Parish had three charges with the North Church (later the Jubilee Hall) being the second. Rev William Logan and the congregation joined the Free Church of Scotland, but by 1844 after various changes in minister, they had transferred the property and congregation to the Reformed Protestant Church; a portion of the congregation chose to unite with the Lesmahagow Free Church.

However because of financial difficulty, the North Church was dissolved in 1869. and the church sold to the renowned J B Greenshields of the Kerse, the author of The Annals of Lesmahagow, published in 1864. In 1877 J B Greenshields gifted the Hall to the village and following some changes, it was opened as the Jubilee Hall celebrating the Golden Jubilee of Queen Victoria. It was run by a trust until 1951 when it was handed over to the then Second District Council.

During 1954, the Hall was completely renovated and the balcony removed.The Hall was reopened in January 1955 with a special dedication service, meal and entertainment including a One-Act play, "The Road of Poplars", presented by the Coalburn Drama Group under the direction of Mr John L. Sorbie.

Bloomfield Road and Lesmahagow Jubilee Hall

The Hall in use

The hall became very popular and people have very fond memories of the events held there. A wide range of groups and societies used the hall including the young farmers group, the mother and toddler group, the badminton club, the drama group Class Act (who produced an annual pantomime amongst other plays) and the male voice choir, who gave concerts there.It had been the scene of wedding receptions and anniversary celebrations, dances and parties, sports tournaments and village shows.

Craft Exhibition at Lesmahagow Jubilee Hall

Lace-making at a Craft Exhibition at Lesmahagow Jubilee Hall on the 16th April 2005

Craft Exhibition at Lesmahagow Jubilee Hall

Craft Exhibition at Lesmahagow Jubilee Hall showing the interior of the hall.

The campaign to save the hall

In mid-2008, South Lanarkshire Council undertook a review of all its community facilities. As a result of that review, the council's executive committee decided to declare the Jubilee Hall surplus to requirements and invest instead in the nearby Fountain Hall, which had lain mothballed until it was acquired by the council at a cost of more than £500,000.

The Fountain Hall, Lesmahagow. 5th May, 2011. Election Day

The Fountain was originally the Parish Church Hall but rebuilt together with a new branch for the Bank of Scotland (on the left). The building was first used as a restaurant but, after the restaurant closed, it was bought by the Council to convert into a public hall.

In June 2010, the Lesmahagow Community Council set up a protest group, Friends of the Jubilee, which was well supported by local organisations. A petition was sent to South Lanarkshire Council. Some support was gained from local politicians especially Aileen Campbell, MSP who gave a speech to the Scottish Parliament in support of saving the hall for the community. The idea was opposed by Labour politicians who supported the local council, arguing that a sum of £1 million had been allocated for refurbishment of the Fountain and that more than £500,00 had already been spent on buying the property.

An important point raised by Aileen Campbell was ownership of the Jubilee Hall. "Perhaps one reason why the hall occupies such a special place in the hearts of so many people is that, although legally the hall is owned by the council, many feel that it belongs to the village. However, the Jubilee hall is different from the many community halls that are in the hands of trusts or charities in that it is owned by the local authority. That ownership is what has led to the current predicament. Although constructed in the mid-1800s, the hall was to all intents and purposes gifted to the village in the 1950s. A freedom of information disclosure to my office from South Lanarkshire Council confirms that the trustees of Lesmahagow public hall - as it was then known - gave part of the site to the district council of number 2 district of the county of Lanark on 1 January 1951, with provisions in the title and previous deeds requiring the site to be used as a public hall. Irrespective of whether those deeds are still legally enforceable, South Lanarkshire Council has a moral duty to respect what is an important part of the town's heritage." However, legal advice obtained by the protest group afterwards suggested that the Council could argue that, as they had maintained and supported it, and they were the elected representatives of the people, they had right to sell it. It could be argued in a court but the legal expenses would be very high.

When it became apparent that purchasing the hall for the community was not commercially viable, Friends of Jubilee (FOJ) and Lesmahagow Development Trust(LDT) explored the possibility of making it into a Boxing Club. At the end of April 2011, LDT submitted an interest to South Lanarkshire Council in obtaining the hall as a boxing club.At a later meeting with the Council, a list of requirements were put forward by the council. LDT submtted all the information except for the running costs which the council would not pass on to LDT. Despite LDT's brave attempts to get this project approved, the council finally rejected the Boxing Club proposal.

The Jubilee Hall, together with the neighbouring former Registry offices at the corner of Wellwood Road and Bloomfield Road, were put up for sale. Eventually the Registry Office was purchased by a local builder, who was offered the Jubilee Hall as well for a modest sum.

The former Registry Office with the small car park behind it has now been rebuilt as a private house. The Jubilee Hall was demolished in the last quarter of 2021 and a family home will be erected on the site.

Demolition

Demolition of Lesmahagow Jubilee Hall - Final Curtain

Demolition of Lesmahagow Jubilee Hall - Final Curtain. 28th August 2021

Demolition of Lesmahagow Jubilee Hall

Demolition of Lesmahagow Jubilee Hall. 13th September 2021

Demolition of Lesmahagow Jubilee Hall

Demolition completed. 4th October 2021

First and third photographs by Rozsa Halls

How did organisations cope

Following the closure of the Jubilee Hall, Lesmahagow Male Voice Choir have been holding their concerts in the Old Parish Church. Specially made staging was made to go over the steps to make a tiered stage.

Lesmahagow Male Voice Choir

Lesmahagow Male Voice Choir 9th March 2017 in the Parish Church

A Class Act (now renamed Gow AmDram) have been using the hall at Milton Primary School for their pantomimes and other events.

Other groups like the playgroup have been using the Fountain Hall.

Final comments

The Jubilee Hall served the community of Lesmahagow well and it is sad to see it go. Many people have fond memories of events there. However, public halls have hardly been in use for the last two years as indoor meetings have been largely banned because of the Covid pandemic. The Fountain Hall has been used as a Vaccination Centre and was used as a polling station. The fact that organisations could not meet up for so long, is perhaps a bigger tragedy than the loss of one public hall. The future of all the associations and their activities is still not clear.

References

  1. Wikipedia on Abbeygreen Church
  2. A Brief History of Jubilee Hall, Lesmahagow, R.S.McLeish, 2009, Lesmahagow Parish Historical Association.
  3. Lesmahagow Development Trust - Project Jubilee Hall
  4. Lesmahagow Male Voice Choir - Jubiiee Hall
  5. Aileen Campbell, MSP speech to Scottish Parliament
  6. The Fountain, Lesmahagow - video by South Lanarkshire Council

Completed 17th January 2022 by DH. Updated 12th February 2022.