By Helen Davidson
Traditionally local halls have always been locations that bring the community together. They serve as places to socialise and hold countless events. Since it was built in 1884, Exeter Street Hall in Prestonville, Brighton was at the heart of the community, used as a Sunday school by St Luke’s Church as well as a Wedding venue, polling station and location for parties and numerous other clubs and societies.
However, in more recent year Exeter Street Hall stood forgotten and in a dilapidated state, until Brighton residents saw its space and potential. Undeterred by the building’s need for major structural repairs and lack of heating and electricity, the locals decided to raise money to buy and restore it.
A team of Brighton residents known as the Save Exeter Street Hall Team have worked together to save the decaying local hall on Exeter Street. The team consists of managers and builders including: Paul Winter, Dexter Combe, Susan Barton, Claire Humms, Amanda Nichols, Richard Davies, Grant Shepherd, Jonathan Dall, Nick Roughley, Dave Fellows, Polly Stebbens, Susan Corlett, Peter Golton and many other local volunteers and financial contributors to the project.
Other people involved include architecture students from Brighton University, who were called in to fully survey the building and help with the redesign.
The main challenge was to raise the £200K needed to buy the building from St Luke’s Church. To raise funds for the hall and the rebuilding process, members of the public were invited to buy shares in the project. This means that they can both partially own the hall and help with its restoration.
Some of the first people to buy shares and campaign to save the hall include Brighton Pavilion MP Caroline Lucas, businessman Mike Holland and writer Paul James. Thanks to everyone’s generous contributions, the team achieved their target of £150K in January 2013, bringing them a great deal closer to owning the hall.
When I asked how it felt to be nominated for the Argus Achievement Award 2013 for Achiever of the Year, team member Peter Golton said, ‘Only just found out today so bit taken aback. Great news for the community and all of our volunteers.’
Thanks to a lot of hard work and community spirit Exeter Street Hall will now again be the asset to the community it once was.
For more information on the project and to find out how to get involved visit: http://www.exeterstreethall.org/