Dissapointment after Southam First World War hut restoration hopes are dashed by sale

The hut, currently known as Craven Lane Hall, in Southam.The hut, currently known as Craven Lane Hall, in Southam.
The hut, currently known as Craven Lane Hall, in Southam. | jpimedia
`Members of a comittee set up to try to transform an old First World War tin-roofed hut in Southam into a historical research centre for the town have expressed their dissapointment that the building has now been sold.

The hut, in Craven Lane, was built from a flat pack in 1919 and first used as a training camp for the Birmingham PALS and the Reserve Battalion of the Royal Warwickshire regiment.

After the First World War it became a community hall for those who returned from the war, used to raise money for injured servicemen and their families and as a centre of entertainment for the town, Southam Branch of the Royal British Legion used it for meetings from 1st December 1919 until 30th August 1926.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

In 2007, the hut was set to be knocked down and flats built in its place but it was purchased from HSBC Bank by Heart of England Community Foundation and a new management committee was formed

Chairman of Southam Heritage Collection Bernard Cadogan receiving a cheque for 5,000 from Jim Steele, chairman of Craven Lane Hall Management Committee. The people in the background are members of both committees.Chairman of Southam Heritage Collection Bernard Cadogan receiving a cheque for 5,000 from Jim Steele, chairman of Craven Lane Hall Management Committee. The people in the background are members of both committees.
Chairman of Southam Heritage Collection Bernard Cadogan receiving a cheque for 5,000 from Jim Steele, chairman of Craven Lane Hall Management Committee. The people in the background are members of both committees. | jpimedia

Surveyors and architects were employed and in 2012 plans were submitted with the Heart of England foundation successfully applying for a Heritage Lottery grant.

Jim Steele, chairman of the Craven Lane Hall management committee, said: "During the last 13 years plans were made of how we would use the hut after restoration.

"We were going to employ an education manager with any other roles undertaken by volunteers dressed appropriately.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

"The interior would have recreated a First World War billet and have First World War re-enactments on open days for visitors.

But in January we were informed by the Heart of England Community Foundation that due to an ongoing dispute over a party wall which couldn’t be resolved, they had sold the land and Craven Lane Hall.

"All the management committee are very disappointed at the outcome with 13 years of planning and waiting gone.

"The hall would have been a great asset to Southam as a historical research centre and for many other uses."

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

In 1938 the building became known as the Southam Infant Welfare Centre.

Mothers used to bring babies to the hut to be weighed and checked by registered nurses.

They were given powdered milk for babies and cod liver oil and orange juice for growing children.

The Welfare Hut also provided a meeting place for mothers during a time when there were limited opportunities for mothers to socialise.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Over the years weddings, birthdays and many other functions were celebrated in the hut.

It became central for social life in Southam.

HSBC Bank were Trustees and for 37 years a committee raised funds to pay for repairs and replacements when required.

A mini market with several stalls was held every Tuesday morning, a café was run by ladies of the committee to raise funds.

Other organisations hired the hall for a variety of functions but the building was falling into disrepair.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

All artefacts and historical documents and information connected to the building will be handed over to the Southam Heritage Collection in Tithe Place, High Street, .where they will be available for members of the public to view, at their leisure.

A cheque for £5,000 of the remaining money left in the accounts for the hall has also been presented to the committee.

Comment Guidelines

National World encourages reader discussion on our stories. User feedback, insights and back-and-forth exchanges add a rich layer of context to reporting. Please review our Community Guidelines before commenting.