A history of Rowen Memorial Hall
Rowen Memorial Hall is a War Memorial, in memory of the local men who fought in the First World War. The original Memorial Hall in the middle of the village was an old army hut from Kinmel Park Training Camp. It served as Rowen’s village hall from about 1924 until 1980. The Hall became a registered charity in 1964. In the early 1970s, the community decided to replace the old Hall, but the existing Hall site was too small, and there was no space for car parking.
The Memorial Hall was rebuilt on a new site in 1980, following many years of fund-raising, with whist drives, coffee mornings, sponsored events and donations, led by John England, Isoline Gee, Chris Siertsema, Jacqui Jones, David Richard Williams, Dudley Bedford, and others. Peter McFadden became Hall Treasurer in 1978, following Dudley Bedford. Chris Siertsema became Hall Chairman when Miss Gee died in 1977. Miss Gee bequeathed a parcel of land at Craflwyn to the Hall, plus a legacy of £2000. The land was exchanged for a more convenient piece of land near Llannerch y Felin, belonging to John Davies, Cefn y Cae Farm. Janet Evans of Howell Jones Solicitors, Llanrwst, undertook the complicated land transfer pro bono. The new site for the Hall was adjacent to the village Playing Field, and it had access onto the public car park.
The new Memorial Hall was designed by Kenneth Mortimer Hart, Penrhiw, Rowen and built in 1980 by Frank Tyldesley and Co, Llandudno at a cost of £50,000. Chris Siertsema was Hall Chairman at the time. We were applying for grant aid to build the Hall at a time of very high price inflation. We sold the old Hall site to a builder for £9000, and we vacated the Hall in September 1980. The new Memorial Hall opened in December 1980, with a whist drive with 27 tables or 108 people. The new Hall was officially opened by John England in 1981. Gas heating was installed soon afterwards, although most of Rowen village did not get gas heating until 1990.
David Richard Williams started a 20-year term as Hall Chairman in 1983. We made continuous improvements to the Hall, including gas heating, fire alarm and emergency lighting, double-glazing, disabled access and toilet, new storeroom, new tables and chairs, new curtains etc, by local fund-raising efforts, and with grant aid from WREN (Waste Recycling Group) and others.
In 1993, Eric and Mary Knowles, Tan y Capel, initiated the Rowen Village Gardens Open Day, to raise funds to replace the Hall curtains. The Open Days have been held every two years ever since, and they are still our main means of raising funds to improve the Hall. Various other fundraising events are held in the Hall, in aid of many good causes.
Shirley Foxwell (now Collinge) became Hall Chairman in 2004, and made many improvements, including updating the kitchen, new lighting, central heating and better access. She started the Friday evening Ballroom Dancing classes. Brian Sherlock took over as Hall Chairman in 2012, and revived the Snooker Club, which has become very popular again. Short Mat Bowling sessions were started in 2013, with grant aid from Conwy Community Chest towards the purchase of equipment. Family History classes started in 2013.
Rowen Art Group has met in the Hall on Wednesday mornings, and has held their Annual Exhibition in the Memorial Halls, old and new, for well over 50 years. The Country Dancing Group started in the mid 1970s in the old Hall, and they continue to meet on Tuesday evenings. We are still making continuous improvements to the Hall, and it has become busier and busier.
WiFi was installed in the Memorial Hall in 2015. Rowen Cinema was set up in the Hall in January 2018.
We are always keen to hear of any recollections of the Memorial Hall, or to see any old pictures of the Hall or the village.
Compiled by Peter McFadden
Updated February 2018