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Hockley Public Hall

A Brief History

Hockley’s population was growing. The residents needed somewhere to meet and play, and in 1902 Mrs Augusta Mary Tawke of Whitbreads gave the community two plots of land in Bullwood Road, Hockley on which was to be built a hall to be used for meetings, as a reading room and library. The Public Hall, as it was known, soon became the centre of the community and was used for a variety of events.

One of the first organisations to hold regular meetings there was the Women’s Institute and in 1925 they celebrated their Christmas party with masked carollers, attired in scarlet clocks and hoods, whilst other members recited and put on a sketch. In 1926 the entertainment included a mannequin parade, a cookery talk and at the end of the meeting the members collected £1 16s. 0d. for distressed minors.

Not all the events held at the Public Hall were purely social and it frequently provided a venue for church services. In November 1936 a united service was held there with the British Legion, Scouts and Guides, marching from the Spa Hotel to the Hall. In his address the Rev. Budd said ‘that the peace making efforts of the last 15 years had come to nought and that the League of Nations was discredited.’ Following the address the roll of honour for the fallen for Hockley and Hawkwell was read.

The hall was damaged by a landmine during the Second World War, but it was repaired and the opportunity taken to extend it.

The Public Hall still plays an important part in the life of the community of Hockley, but it is growing old and plans are in hand for its modernisation following an encouraging lottery grant.

Extract from ‘Hockley, Hullbridge & Hawkwell Past’ by Lesley Vingoe

Published by Phillimore & Co. Ltd. 1999