The minutes state that "Mr Beardsley, the owner, had accepted the offer of the Branch i.e. £50 per year rent on a 21 year lease with an option of purchasing after 8 years."
Eventually the land was purchased freehold for £250. (Today this club has an insured value of over £500,000!)
Plans were drawn up and tenders issued. All good local builders e.g. Morley's, Gibbs and Woolridge quoted and eventually a bid of £1887 was accepted in November 1955 by
Morley's the builder.
The Newbury Weekly News of 8th December 1955 included the following entry:
Legion approve new £2,200 H.Q. plan
The Hungerford British legion headquarters scheme
received the "go ahead" signal at an extraordinary branch meeting in the Town Hall on Monday evening. It is hoped work will start at the beginning of next week and will be completed in about six
With nearly 100 present, the meeting produced probably the largest gathering of members ever to take place in Hungerford. Mr Cyril Bates (chairman) presided, with Dr M M Wallis
On the proposition of Major H Fairfax-Harvey, seconded by Dr R D Kennedy, unanimous approval was given to an executive recommendation to carry out the scheme. Committee efforts
and negotiations over the last four-and-a-half years have thus at last reached the stage of fruition.
The site is near the cinema and the lowest tender for the building of £1,887 12s submitted by J Morley, of Hungerford, has been accepted.
The present RBL headquarters in Church Way was built in 1956. The minutes show that so much of the work was done by volunteers
from the Club. Lorries, tractors, diggers etc were loaned by builders. Legion members who were tradesmen gave their time freely on "volunteer days" - the end of which must have been interesting as
the minutes refer to free beer for all those who have worked during the day!
Whilst the clubhouse was being built, the Branch continued its welfare work. For example, the Treasurers Receipt Book for 1956 records that 23 households received bags of
coal at a cost of £10 6s 11d from A Beard and Son for Christmas 1956. It was noted that the coal merchant charged the coal at cost. Hospital visits were made to Legion members who were sick and gifts
of packets of Woodbines and Senior Service cigarettes were given to them.
In June 1956 the new clubhouse was formally opened by General Sir Brian Horrocks of 8th Army fame who lived locally.
The RBL Branch is separate to the RBL Club, which is a limited company.
The Branches sole function is to raise funds for the RBL nationally and locally and to serve the ex-service community in this area from a welfare point of view where the
criteria is need not want. Much welfare work is carried out.
A second major role of the Hungerford Branch is to raise money for the Poppy Appeal. Each year a team of about 40 volunteers raise about £18,500 over a 2 week period, a
remarkable sum in a town of only 5,500 people.
(With thanks to John Parry)
The List of Office Holders (1950-56, 1972-2013) has been compiled by John Parry - but names are missing for 1932-1949 and 1957-1971. If you can help, please email the administrator.
- Talk on British Legion by John Parry - given to Hungerford Probus Club, May 2011
- Regent Cinema
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