The History of the Droitwich Spa Community Hall
(taken from a History of Methodism in Droitwich by T.P. Arnold 1963)
The first Methodist Chapel in Droitwich was erected on the east side of Queen Street a little below the place where the telephone exchange is now. The architect was Mr. John Smith and the builder Mr. William Wood, both of Droitwich. The total cost was about £1700. The foundation stone was laid on September 21st 1859 and afterwards three hundred people sat down to a tea at a charge of a shilling a head! The opening ceremony took place the next year on July 6th. A special train was provided for visitors from Worcester on the Worcester Oxford and Wolverhampton line. The weather was ‘threatening and tempestuous’ and only two hundred people were present.
The pew rents were fixed as follows per quarter:
Middle : five shillings (entire seat)
Side : one shilling
Gallery : one shilling
A Sunday School was held in the large room at the back of the Chapel. Fines were inflicted on defaulting members of the Sunday School staff. For instance if the Superintendent was late he was fined threepence, if absent half a day sixpence or the whole day one shilling. The teachers similarly were fined if they were late or absent. The first wedding in the Chapel took place on Christmas Day 1867. By 1876 the property had sadly degenerated due to subsidence caused by the removal of brine from below the ground. Donations were invited for tie-rods and the chapel was closed for five months whilst these were put in. Unfortunately the condition of the Chapel went from bad to worse, in 1879 the walls and window were cracking and the heating was inadequate. Repairs were made but in 1884 an urgent meeting had to be called. Some people advocated pulling down the Chapel and replacing it with an iron one! A few days later a notice was received from the Borough Surveyor giving the trustees six days in which to make the building safe or else it would be pulled down. It was decided to hold services in the schoolroom and to look for a new site free from subsidence. The Chapel Anniversary on June 21st 1885 was celebrated in Salters Hall.
Several sites were considered for a new chapel and finally one was selected in Newtown, the site of the present day Community Hall. The situation was central and the approach from Ombersley Street by way of a lengthy laurel bordered drive was attractive. (Nine Foot Way was only a footpath then). Tenders were invited for the pulling down of the chapel in Queen Street, the transportation of the materials and re-erection on the new site. The tender submitted by Mr. J. Read of Bromsgrove for £632.12.0 was accepted. John Corbett contributed £100. The memorial stone was laid on 23rd September 1886 and the opening took place the following year on the 19th May. There was a service in the chapel and then a public tea in Salters Hall. In the evening there was a lecture on ‘Queen Victoria, her long and happy reign.’ (This was the month of her Jubilee). The newspaper report of the opening says ‘General satisfaction is expressed at the manner in which the work has been carried out by the builders. The chapel is now much lighter than formerly and in its restored condition has a pleasant and cheerful appearance.’
But in spite of this promising start the chapel was time and again in need of repair. In most winters, certainly in the later years, the preacher and the worshippers had the choice of being cold or choked by fumes! The stoves and turret were repaired in 1904 and the Chapel was out of use whilst this work was carried out. Less than two years later the turret was again defective and by 1910 the safe had to be moved to another part of the building because the marriage books were mildewed. In 1922 a programme of repairs was undertaken but the damp condition of the chapel still prevailed. The Baptismal Register had to be kept in a private house. The Sunday School was closed in 1932.
In 1934 the Rev.H.T.Lazenby persuaded the Trustees to consider the erection of a completely new church. This was duly done and the Worcester Road church was opened in January 1938.
The Trustees sold the Ombersley Street chapel to Mr. T.H. Platts the proprietor of the Raven Hotel for £1250. War broke out the following year and Mr. Platts was compelled to lease the building for the British Sugar Corporation for the storage of sugar. In 1952 the building was sold to the Midland Electricity Board and then used to store machinery. In 1979 Droitwich Spa Town Council bought the derelict chapel for use as a tourist information centre and local museum. It was renovated and renamed the Droitwich Heritage Centre and opened on October 16th 1980.
In the latter part of 1989 the Droitwich Heritage Centre moved to new premises in Victoria Square and in 1990 the Town Council opened the doors of the Methodist Chapel under its new name the Droitwich Spa Community Hall for use by the local community. In 1993 it was altered and extended to host more varied and even bigger events
Click here to download The Conditions of Hire for Droitwich Spa Community Hall
Click here to download The Hire Charges for Droitwich Spa Community Hall
Click here to download The Street Map the Droitwich Spa Community Hall
Click here to download The Town Centre Plan showing Droitwich Spa Community Hall
ADDRESS: DROITWICH SPA COMMUNITY HALL, HERITAGE WAY, DROITWICH SPA WR9 8RF