The St Mary Bourne Village Centre, or Village Hall as it is has been known over the years, is in an ideal position in the centre of the village adjacent to the Recreation Ground and the Village Shop. It has been a thriving venue for village activities throughout the Queen's reign, but the building has seen many changes. In the very early days villagers met in a church room in Egbury Road, often used as a reading room, and used the skittle alley in The Plough for social activities.
The forerunner to the present hall was built by voluntary labour from an international youth organisation in the early 1950s, and was based on a pre- fabricated agricultural building when building materials were still not plentiful. The skittle alley was then incorporated when The Plough closed, as a Club Room. The main hall was cold and draughty, made slightly less so by a noisy heating system, and even in the 1980s those using the hall had to compromise between being slightly less cold and being able to hear! The hall was opened in 19555 by the Rt Hon David Eccles, Secretary of State for Education, and soon became the hub of village activities as is the present hall today.
By the 1980s it was clear that the hall was not meeting the needs of the village and that maintenance was such a problem that even refurbishment would not make a significant improvement. The only answer would be a new hall, and this was agreed at a public meeting in 1989 when a project committee was established.
The building of the present hall, incorporating the old clubroom refurbished, was a success story and within 4 years of setting up the committee the new hall was opened on 17 April 1993 without owing a penny to anyone, despite the project having cost £300,000. Although some grants were available this was before the days of the National lottery. Donations and fundraising raised £200,000 from the village alone.
The hall now provides outstandingly good facilities for activities ranging from formal meetings to keep fit classes, providing a home for short mat bowls, pre-school and infant groups, amateur dramatics and such like. It is ideal for private parties and weddings as well as for charity events and public meetings. The hall is well used, the finances are very healthy and the village is indebted not only to those responsible for the original hall and the rebuild, but also to those who manage it so well at the present time.
Thanks to grants provided by Basingstoke & Deane Borough Council, Hampshire County Council, grassroot grants, Vitacress and funds from Village Centre reserves it was made possible to enlarge and fully refurbish the kitchen to modern standards in 2009. The new kitchen was opened by Borough Councillor Horace Mitchell on 24 Februar 2010.
Website - www.stmarybourne.co.uk