WEST AUCKLAND MEMORIAL HALL
7 February 1925: Located on Darlington Road, the Memorial Hall commissioned by the West Auckland War Heroes Fund Committee, was formally opened by Mrs. Malcolm Smith. It cost £2,750 and was built on land donated by Messrs. Bolckow & Vaughan. To raise this sum of money, various methods were used including a levy imposed by the West Auckland Durham Miners Association Lodge on its members, public subscriptions, fund raising activities and other donations were made including £50 by the directors of the West Auckland Brewery Co. on the understanding that a public hall was to be erected.
The following article will WAHF Committee’s minutes and summarise the main decisions, look at the fund raising events and list those organisations that enjoyed the facilities in the first years of its use.
8 November 1918: The West Auckland War Heroes Fund Committee was established at a public meeting held at West Auckland school [presumably at Millbank]. The chairman of the meeting was a Mr. Clough. 
8 NOVEMBER 1918: PUBLIC MEETING WEST AUCKLAND SCHOOLS
CHAIRMAN: Mr. CLOUGH
Minute 1: Mr. SNAITH moved and Mr. JACKSON seconded that we establish a fund for war heroes and for any other purpose the committee may think fit to decide. As an amendment: Mr. WHITE moved, Mr. H. SMITH seconded that a fund be established for the benefit of all who have fought in the war. For the amendment 15. Motion 16 thus the motion was carried.
M2: The Committee – L. CLOUGH; W. FAIRS; R. MAUGHAN; W. JOHNSON; J.W. WILSON; Jas LITTLE; R. ATKINSON; G. SNAITH; T. HESLOP; D.S. THOM; T. SOWERBY; T. BODDY; Dr SHORT; Dr SMITH; G. WALL; R. SIMPSON; TOMLINSON; W. COATES; PEART; BROWN; E. JACKSON; T. BOOTHBY; ELLIOTT, BELL, W. BOWSER; Jos. HENDERSON; LITTLE; ALDERSON; Rev. RICHARDSON; JAMESON; BLACK; FORD; H. SMITH; R. WESTON.
Later additions – R. McCUTCHEON; T. MAUGHAN; A. BOWES; J. BRISCOE; W. LITTLE; T. REWCASTLE; E. BOWSER; R. TEASDALE; D. THOMAS; John HENDERSON; S. MONK.
M3: Chairman: Mr. CLOUGH
M4: Secretary: Mr. WESTON
M5: Treasurer: Mr. WALL
M6: The township was divided into collection districts and collectors appointed to each
- Brewery to Nursery; E. FORD & B. BRISCOE
- Arnold St., Mahon Rd. & Meadow View; TOMLINSON & TEASDALE
- Lanchesters & Mr. Sowerby; JAS. LITTLE & A. LIDDLE
- Salisbury, PO Square & Chapel St; A. BOWES & W. COATES
- Johnson Tce., Oakley St. & Darlington Rd.; E. JACKSON & J. HENDERSON
- Riley’s to Mr. I. Longstaff including Diamond Tce; C. HAIRS & T. MAUGHAN
- From I. Longstaff & Rev. Veal including New St., Ayers Yard & Raby Tce.; W. WHITE & H. SMITH
- Eden Crescent, Victoria St & Louvain Tce.; G. SNAITH & L. CLOUGH
- Copeland Rd. Edith & Irene Tces.; Rev. RICHARDSON & J.W. JAMIESON
- B. Lambs, Staindrop Rd to Acrum Farm including Toadpool: D. THOMAS & W. JOHNSON
- Old Engine & Spring Gardens & Gaugers Arms & Railway Side: PEART & SIMPSON
- Hummerbeck & Bildershaw also Bolam Lough Farm: T. BODDY & G. WALL
- Copeland Farms, Staindropfield Farms, Bolton Garth Farm: R. ATKINSON & E. MAUGHAN
M7: Meetings held Friday nights at 7 o’clock.
And so the task was commenced to provide a facility for the good folks of West Auckland in memory of those who fell during the war. Fundraising events were well organised with sub committees responsible for particular events. The ladies working party appears to have worked tirelessly – whist drives, dances with refreshments, concerts, flag days, gala sports days with processions, best comic bicycle, best decorated bicycle, best decorated business property, shabbiest turnout. There was a prize for everything imaginable – guess the weight of the pullet but gambling was not allowed. The miners paid a weekly levy towards the building fund and donations were given – Bolckow and Vaughan proprietors of West Auckland Colliery, Pease and Partners [St. Helens Colliery] and West Auckland Brewery gave generously.
The meetings and fund raising continued for 7 years into 1925 when the hall was finally completed, furnished and ready for use. An indication of progress is given below:
15 NOVEMBER 1918
M2: Ladies Working Party handed over £21/10/3½
M3: Auditors; Mr. THOMAS & Mr. JAMIESON
M6: that the Secretary obtain a list of men who have won decorations
29 NOVEMBER 1918
M3: The Secretary having read out the particulars of the men who had won decorations it was proposed…that Sapper Alec Briggs be included amongst those to be presented and the case of Glasper recommended for the Zeebrugge Medal be held over for further particulars.
M5: Sacred Concert to be held Sunday December 8th, admission 1/ & 6d
29 NOVEMBER 1918: Mr. G. SNAITH in the Chair
M3: Miss AVELEIGH of Darlington offering her services at the Sacred Concert – offer accepted
M5 Ticket collectors – D.R. THOMAS; W. COATES; M. VICKERS; Jos HENDERSON; John HENDERSON; Jos JACKSON; J. LITTLE; H. SIMPSON; A. LIDDLE; G. WALL; G. SNAITH; B. BRISCOE & H. SMITH
6 DECEMBER 1918
M2: The committee pledge to raise at least £2000 for the purpose of building a memorial hall as a tribute to the lads who have made the supreme sacrifice.
Note: West Auckland WMC – representatives to the WAWHF committee – Joseph JACKSON; Mathew VICKERS; Robert RAINE; Robert MUNDELL; Frank WADE; Thomas GENT
18 DECEMBER 1918
M4: The following were added to the Committee – Robert SMITH; A. THOMSON; T. FAIRLESS; C. MORLEY; R. PHILIPSON; B. RICHARDSON; J.W. WAISTELL; Joseph JACKSON; Matt VICKERS; Robert RAINE; Robert MUNDELL; F. WADE; Thos. GENT.
20 DECEMBER 1918
M2: Jumble sale progress
M4: Pea guessing competition
M5 Cockerel weighing competition
M6: The following were added to the committee – J. LUMLEY & L. BRITTON
10 JANUARY 1919: L. CLOUGH back in the Chair
M3 Fête & Show Day
M4 Saturday 28 June
M5 Schoolboys’ sports [Mr. White to be interviewed]
7 FEBRUARY 1919
M4: Added to the Committee – R. BLACK; Chris MORLEY; W. WARDLE; W. SUMMERSON 
This meeting has many ideas for the fête.
14 FEBRUARY 1919
M2: The letter from Mr D.R. Thomas conveying the decision of the Durham Miners Association W. Auckland Lodge that the said lodge do not amalgamate funds be accepted.
M3. Sub-committee formed to inspect the Old Mill
28 FEBRUARY 1919
M2: All who have won decorations and who left the village for enlistment unless they have already received a public presentation be made a presentation from this committee.
14 MARCH 1919
M3: Presentations to the value from £7 to £7/10 recipients to have their choice of gift
M5: Presentations to take place 4 April [Picture Hall?]
M10: The secretary furnish full particulars of the military services rendered that resulted in the awards of medals made to the proposed recipients.
21 MARCH 1919
M2: The presentation by the work people of St. Helens Colliery to Pte. JOHN RACE 15/DLI be considered a private presentation and that said John Race be included amongst those to be presented by the West Auckland War Heroes Fund Committee on April 4.
M3: re the above presentation – T. Boddy [in the chair] Rev. G.B. Richardson [to make presentations of medals]; Mrs. Geo. Snaith [presentations of gifts from the fund] supported by Dr M. Smith; Rev D. Short, Mr. Clough; Mr. Wall; Mr. Geo. Snaith
M4: Temperance Band be asked to give their services
28 MARCH 1919
M3: The Durham Miners Lodge be represented on the platform by Messrs. D.R. Thomas & G. Snaith and the illuminated address from the Miners be presented by them to R.T. BOWSER.
9 MAY 1919
M2: A presentation to Alec Briggs be made
16 & 30 MAY & 6 & 13 JUNE 1919
Full reports of duties and arrangements for the fête.
4 JULY 1919
M3: The case of Critchley be enquired into and that a report be furnished as to whether he is entitled to be presented by the Committee.
17 OCTOBER 1919
M2: Alec Briggs be accepted and that a clock be presented to him.
31 OCTOBER 1919
M7: The committee reaffirm their decision to erect a permanent memorial hall in memory of the fallen.
5 DECEMBER 1919
M6: Treasurer’s report re the Presentation Concert held Friday 4 November be accepted.
19 MARCH 1920
Discussion with Mr. Vart regarding the Old Mill to take place
11 & 18 JUNE 1920
Monday 26 July – Show Day to be arranged to include trotting and pony scampers and foot handicap.
23 JULY 1920
Arrangements made for supervision of events – tug of war, pony scamping, trotting, wheelbarrow, 3 legged races.
30 JULY 1920
102 entries to the foot handicap – Mr. DUNN to explain discrepancies [Note: his explanation accepted 13 August].
22 OCTOBER 1920
The miners had decided to levy themselves for a hall and discussion took place for a joint effort.
11 FEBRUARY 1921
Funds amounted to:
Fund: £362 – 15 – 11d
Ladies: £381 – 15 – 8d
Total: £744 – 9 – 7d
Secretary resigned and Mr. John SPONTON appointed
NO MINUTES OF MEETINGS UNTIL 30 SEPTEMBER 1921
11 NOVEMBER 1921
Mr. Boddy reported on the meeting with Mr. Vart re: the Old Mill. Committee decided to see Mr. Monk regarding land near Rutter’s shop.
5 MAY 1922
Secretary resigned [Mr. Sponton]. Mr. GENT appointed
23 MAY 1922
M4: Asked Parish Council to write to Commissioners for a site on the Green for land for the building of a hall.
20 JUNE 1922
M4: Mr Douglas Crawford Architect asked to attend a meeting.
30 JUNE 1922
M2: Ben Spoor MP asked to help
M3. Messrs Bolckow Vaughan & Co. Ltd asked for land
12 SEPTEMBER 1922
M2: Messrs Bolckow Vaughan & Co. Ltd land down Darlington Road on Mr. Sowerby’s Farm.
M3: Photo of hall and invite subscriptions
20 OCTOBER 1922
M4: Photos sent to Messrs Bolckow Vaughan & Co. Ltd, Pease & Pts, West Auckland Brewery Co., Mr Hare, Crawford, Kellett, Heslop, Vart & Doggart.
12 APRIL 1923
M4: We accept the offer of the site of land from Messrs Bolckow Vaughan & Co. Ltd on Mr. Sowerby’s farm.
M6: Write a letter of condolence to the family of our late Chairman Mr. Clough.
17 MAY 1923
M4: RALPH SIMPSON appointed Chairman
M5: Mr. Walls resigned as treasurer
M6: Mr. Wm. SUMMERSON appointed treasurer.
12 JUNE 1923
M4: To write to Mr. Crawford and Messrs. Kellett & Clayton to submit plans for the building [Note: previously there had been discussion of size and rooms.]
M6: Mr. Simpson [chairman] resigned.
M7: Mrs. Fairs elected chairman.
19 JUNE 1923 [Mr. Simpson still chairman]
M2: Douglas Crawford engaged as architect.
26 JUNE 1923 [Mr. Simpson still chairman]
M2: Mr. Crawford’s proposal for the hall was accepted.
10 JULY 1923 [Mrs. Hair presiding]
M4: Dr Smith, S. Monk & Mrs. Boddy to be asked if they would stand as guarantees.
31 AUGUST 1923
M1: Tenders invited
28 SEPTEMBER 1923: [Mrs. Fairs presiding]
M4: 5 Trustees – Mr. SIMPSON for the Miners; Mr. CARLING for the Memorial Fund; Dr SMITH for the public; Mesdames FAIRS & JEMISON for the Ladies.
22 FEBRUARY 1924
M2: New plans
4 MARCH 1924
M2: Trustees – Mr. SIMPSON for the miners; Mr. CARLING for the public; Mrs. FAIRS for the Memorial Committee and Mrs. JEMISON for the Ladies.
M4: Mr. Crawford appointed for specifications and bills of quantities.
18 MARCH 1924
M2: Sub-committee to be formed for Foundation Stone Laying
25 MARCH SUB-COMMITTEE
M2: Mr & Mrs. HARE to be invited to lay the Principle Stone
M.3: Mr. KELLETT & Mr. DOGGART to lay the Corner Stones
1 APRIL 1924
Arrangements for the Foundation Stone Laying.
15 APRIL 1924
M2: Foundation Stone Laying to be Saturday May 4th [later it was decided to be 24th May] 
10 MAY 1924
M2: Mr. James ROBSON to lay the Principle Stone.
M3: Mr. MONK & Dr SMITH to be invited if any others do not accept.
27 MAY 1924
M6: Contractor Mr. WALTON asked for estimate of when the hall would be erected.
1 JULY 1924
M5: Walton Bros. paid £600.00 as part payment.
M8: Memorial Service to be held on Armistice Day Nov 11th 1924.
23 SEPTEMBER 1924
M3: £650.00 2nd installment paid to Mr. Walton.
7 OCTOBER 1924
M2: J.E. Brown-Humes to act as solicitor for the making of deeds.
18 NOVEMBER 1924
M8: Try to get all the names of the soldiers of West Auckland who fell in the Great War.
5 JANUARY 1925
M4: Saturday 7th February for the opening of the Hall.
M5 – 13: arrangements
12 & 20 JANUARY MEETINGS
23 JANUARY 1925
M8: Mr. MATHEWS appointed caretaker
M10: Messrs. Walton to be paid £1000.00
27 JANUARY 1925:
M6: Caretaker to commence duties Monday 2 February.
3 FEBRUARY 1925
M2: Roll of Honour to be purchased from North of England School Furnishing Co.
8 FEBRUARY 1925
M6: Unemployed men of West Auckland Colliery to be admitted as members free gratis.
M8: the hall to be named WEST AUCKLAND MEMORIAL HALL.
18 FEBRUARY 1925
M3: Caretaker paid £2 extra for work done at the opening of the hall.
9 FEBRUARY 1925: The NORTHERN ECHO reported as follows:
PROCESSION AND OPENING AT WEST AUCKLAND
West Auckland’s War Memorial Institute was formally opened on Saturday afternoon by Mrs. Malcolm Smith. Prior to the opening ceremony there was a procession through the village headed by the St. Helens and West Auckland band and the local Miners’ Lodge banner.
The Institute has cost £2,750 and has been built upon a site given by Messrs. Bolckow, Vaughan and Co., Mr. Douglas Crawford of Bishop Auckland, being the architect. The funds were raised by a joint committee of the war memorial and miners’ welfare scheme. The hall will accommodate about 350 persons and also contains suitable committee and cloak rooms.
Following the opening ceremony, Mrs. Smith was presented with a silver cake basket by the architect. The Rev. J. Pinchen of West Auckland presided over the proceedings and afterwards there was a public tea and a concert given by the Wolsingham Quartette Party.
It was decided to have membership and 1000 membership cards were purchased. Newspapers were available for members, cards, dominoes, draughts and other board games, later a billiard table was bought, ping pong [table tennis] was introduced. Outside a fence was erected which enclosed an area for mini golf. An entertainments committee was established to oversee things – a set of quoits was bought. Consideration was given to tennis and bowls and the Auckland Recreation Superintendent was consulted.
The first major event took place the Tuesday after the official opening. It was the Annual Ball of the Farmers and Tradesman. The Memorial Hall was used by many organisations associated with West Auckland and some from St. Helens The following list is taken from the minute books:
- West Auckland Women’s Institute meetings, whist drives and dances.
- The Allotment Association meetings
- Framers and Tradesman whist drive and dance
- Ratepayers meetings
- West Auckland Show Committee meetings
- Concerts were held – Mr. Phillips
- West End F.C annual ball
- West Auckland Cricket Club with West Auckland Town Band
- Lectures were held, one was given by Mr. Leonard White from Bishop Auckland
- Newcastle Infirmary Local Events Committee held meetings and functions
- West Auckland Club Committee hired the hall
- West Auckland Tennis Club
- The Aged Peoples Committee met at the hall and following particular events a collection took place and the proceeds often were donated to the Aged Peoples Treat Committee and/or the Nursing Association
- The Miners Institute held its annual ball at the Hall
- Helens Tennis Club
- The Labour Party
- The Labour Party – Women’s Section
- The Conservative Women’s Party
- The Nursing Association
- Workers’ Education Association [WEA] held classes
- In June 1926, the Distress Committee was set up using the Hall for meetings
- In July 1926, the hall was hired for feeding school children
- Carnival dances were held
- It was used as a Welfare Centre
- Wedding Parties were held
- Child Welfare Centre
- West Auckland British Legion was allowed to use the hall free gratis for a period
- Church Sunday School
- Church Lads Brigade
- Cinematographic shows were held
- Lantern Lectures – Rev. Hodgson
- Public meetings – Mr. Nicholson
- West Auckland Rovers FC
- Salvation Army
- Fur and Feather Shows
Entertainment was provided by local dance bands such as T. Collinson’s Denver Dance Band, Daisy Dance Band; Walters Dance Band, Gay Toneian Dance Band, Imperial Dance Band, Evenwood Nigger Troup, The Wolsingham Quartet Party.
We are now in the year 2019 and the West Auckland Memorial Hall continues in regular use, as ever, due to the dedicated commitment of key people.
REFERENCES & NOTES:
 The minute books are in the possession of the West Auckland Memorial Hall. This selection of minutes is my own choice from many topics, others may have chosen different themes.
 Periodically others were added to the committee – a full list is not provided here
 24 May 1924: the foundation stone was laid by James Robson esq. The other 4 stones are inscribed with the names:
- Sydney Monk esq,
- R. Doggart esq,
- Archibald Reed esq
- H. Kellett esq.
WEST AUCKLAND MEMORIAL HALL OPENING