60 Years & counting

Dalton & Gayles Village Hall was opened on 10 December 1953 by Mrs Louisa Harriet Milbank wife of Mr Jack Milbank, Gayles Fields, Dalton who gifted the land for the hall to be built on. Since that date it has gone through many “ups & downs” but, as the villages it serves celebrated its Diamond Anniversary, it is in a good state of health & well used. 

On Friday 13th December 2013 at 7.30pm there was a Victorian Magic Lantern Slide Show, followed by the Grand Draw of the 60th Anniversary Countdown Draw, cutting of the celebration 60th Birthday Cake & a toast with Cava followed by the opening of the Exhibition of the “Hall Past & Present”. The exhibition charted the Hall & its users from the fund raising through to present day. The recorded memories & photos taken over the years were available to view on the night of the 13th December & also on Saturday 14th December.

The fund raising for a Memorial Hall started 9 years prior to the opening in 1944 when some local families had lost their sons in the war & others joined the fund raising in thanks that as WW2 ended their sons returned. The Memorial Hall was to be a legacy of their sacrifice. The fund raisers were assisted by the members of the Dalton & District Young Farmers Club which had been in existence since 1944. Tarn Bainbridge is credited with the original idea for a Memorial Hall but sadly died before the hall was opened. In his memory his family presented a clock to the hall which still remains in operation to this day in the main hall.

A ledger kept by Mrs Darwin, of Dalton, was displayed at the exhibition which details the prizes given and won at Christmas Draws over the years leading up to & after the opening of the hall. Mrs Telford who lived in Dalton regularly held whist drives in her house, known as the Anchorage at the time, her husband being a sea captain. Home baking was done for village events & sports days & teas, all of which swelled the coffers. Eventually the villagers had raised £2000 as an article taken from the Teesdale Mercury on Wednesday 23rd December 1953 confirms.

The Teesdale Mercury Archive has also revealed how active the village was in its fund raising efforts organising whist drives, ploughing matches & many dances. Having no village hall dances were arranged in the school hall in Dalton, in Cole’s garage in Newsham & Ravensworth Hall. Buses were run by George Maude, we are told, which picked up at many local villages. Everyone had a good time & partnerships were forged at the dances. Dances were held regularly after the hall opened and a photo of one dance was loaned for the exhibition but to date not everyone on the photo has been identified.

The Hall started its life as an RAF hut on a base at Tholthorpe, near Easingwold. Recent research, with the help of a local historian Geoff Wood, has established that the hall was a WW2 gymnasium and cinema at RAF Tholthorpe. The station opened in August 1940 as a satellite station for Linton-on-Ouse, part of 4 Group, Bomber Command. After December 1943 Canadian Squadrons were based there and a memorial to all four Canadian Squadrons is on the village green in Tholthorpe. The former site of the hall is on the Flawith Road in the corner of a field which is now part of Reynards Farm. Geoff remembers being taught to wrestle in the gymnasium by the Canadians before it was converted into a cinema which was still used by the Royal Signals in the late 1940’s.

Opinions vary but it seems generally accepted that this building was located by either the Richmond family or Stan Bainbridge who had served in the RAF when the estimate for a new build hut was rejected as too expensive. Having bought the structure Dalton & District Young Farmers Club members stepped into the breach and demolished the building on site before it was transported to Dalton by Mr Lamb. Dalton YFC members also worked tirelessly cleaning those bricks that could be cleaned in preparation for Messrs Charges local builders to erect the hall.

A photo was displayed at the Exhibition which shows the Hall cleaning party making ready for the opening night on which a Whist Drive was held followed by a dance. The advert for the opening has been found in the Teesdale Mercury on 9 December 1953.

Grants were sought to complete the refit of the interior. Although, it is not known if, after many phone calls & letters, the NYCC actually did contribute. However there were insufficient funds to finish the project. They were £500 short in November 1954 when notable farming families came to the rescue. Mrs Eleanor Richmond, Florence Amy Bainbridge & Thomas Victor (Tot) Wappat granted a mortgage to the then trustees (Lawrence Stanley (Stan) Bainbridge, Browson ; John William Bousfield of Dousgill Farm ; John Gerald Frederick Milbank of Gayles Fields, and Thomas Victor Wappat, Low Fields, Gayles). The mortgage was repaid in full on 4 June 1956. Without this kind act & the plot of land being gifted by the Milbank family the hall may never have been built.

Visitors to the exhibition on 13th & 14th December 2013 were asked to identify any persons still unknown on the many photographs that were displayed. They also viewed photocopies of the many old documents that have been loaned by villagers including the original architects drawing which will be hung in the hall .

A CD of the photos and articles etc displayed was produced at a cost of £4 plus postage & packaging and can still be purchased - please contact Sheila Wappat 01833 621490 or Linda Sherwood 01833 621307 who together arranged the Exhibition.