During the war, the local Home Guard (No. 3 Platoon, A Company, 6th Glamorgan Battalion, Home Guard) practiced drilling, marching and counter-marching in the extremely restricted space of the Church Hall which indirectly led in 1945 to a public meeting held in Ebenezer Chapel (now a private dwelling) to consider building a Memorial Hall in the Parish. There was support for the proposal and a committee was elected to develop the idea which it did with enthusiasm and great local support.
Fundraising was undertaken through a number of activities: drama, concerts and entertainment, whist drives, bring-and-buy sales, a carnival and flower show (later to become a gymkhana and then an annual Eisteddfod) and house-to-house collections. The most successful fund-raising activity of all was the weekly football sweep which continued until after the hall was built. After some of years of negotiation, a Conveyance was signed in the Black Tower of Cardiff Castle on 1st May 1953, meaning that a five acre site on Common Land belonging to the Lord of the Manor of Senghenydd: the Marquess of Bute was acquired for the building of the hall. In the same year, the site was levelled. Planning permission was subsequently granted and tenders invited. The Official Opening took place on Whit Monday in 1957. Raymond Gower. M.P. for Barry declared the hall open remarking that it was a “fine achievement for such a small number of people’.
The hall became the centre for social activity for the villages of Rudry, Waterloo and Draethen and has been well utilised over the years. It has been the home for the WI, venue for Chapel and Church communities supporting an active Sunday School and home for an enigmatic football team and Cricket Club. It sustained an annual Eisteddfod for many years. It was also home for Nature Club, Youth Clubs and Young Farmers Club events. It was also the venue for the annual Rudry Mountain Race, Mouse Race, Whist Drive, Harvest Supper, Pony Club, Bonfire Night, Barn Dance and Country Fairs, not forgetting an acclaimed Pantomime Production. In more recent times the hall and field has provided sports and recreational facility for the pupils at Rudry Primary School.
The hall served the parish very well over the years. However by the turn of the 21st century, it was dated and did not meet modern requirements in terms of appearance, comfort and facilities. Even though the hall had updated its facilities over the years from its own limited resources, it was generally felt that the basic provision, the fabric of the hall, poor standard toilets and sewer services, inadequate insulation and inefficient heating systems were in need of more than just remedial improvement. Following success in securing some small grants for a new kitchen, re-vamping of stage lighting, with digital projection and state of the art sound systems, the Voluntary Management Committee found new appetite for attaining further funding.
In partnership with the Community Council, two Parish-wide questionnaires were issued to determine what the community would like for their hall and how they would use it. This public consultation process was a requirement of the funding bodies, and from this, a brief was drafted and plans drawn for planning approval. Drawings were made available at the hall for public scrutiny. It was the initial intention to try and keep the hall open during the restoration work, but due to the number of successful grant applications and the subsequent amount of work to be done, this was not practicable. The project time line was compressed, allowing for economies to be achieved within reduced time scales.
• New toilets
• New kitchen
• Large side conservatory-style extension to the side of the hall overlooking the field
• New roof
• New bar area
• Lots of new storage
• New geothermal heating system of ground source heat pump and ground coils under the field
• New underfloor heating
• New flooring
• New windows and doors
• Lots of insulation to external walls, floor and roof
• New drainage
• New patio slabs
• Lots of painting and decorating
The old hall was closed at the start of 2010, and the new hall handed back to the community in July of that same year, with a community event celebrating the official opening of the new hall. A second wave of grant permitted the addition of two meeting rooms, a disabled toilet/wet room and more storage. The grant obtained also funded the reshaping and tarmacing of the car park and completing the grass overflow car park outside the extension.
The two waves of grant funding were awarded by:
• Community Facilities and Activites Programme (CFAP) administered by the Regeneration Unit of the Welsh Assembly Government (£400K)
• Community Key Fund – three awards (£110K)
• Biffa Grant (£30K)
• Beacons Grant (£20K)
• Draethen, Waterloo and Rudry Community Council (£2K)