Village Halls: Brynberian 2020

The village hall in Brynberian began life in 1878 as a school. When it closed in 1972 with only 12 pupils, the community stepped in and, with the aid of a small council grant, a lot of fundraising and donations from past pupils, bought the building for £11,250. Since then, what has been the community hub for the area has seen a host of activities and events, not least the annual Eisteddfod.

When I first met Sandra Llewellyn over two years ago, plans were being drawn up for a huge renovation project, the last having taken place over 25 years ago. Sandra, who has a deep connection through her family with the area, told me then of the ambitious plans that the community had for the future: nothing less than a complete renovation that would bring the building and its usage into the 21st century.  

At our second meeting in the chapel vestry ,early in 2019, to discuss the past, present and future of the hall, Sandra was on hand to explain to a packed room just how far the project had come and to ask this thriving community for its further involvement in making the dreams a reality.

Funding had come from a variety of sources and the presentation showed just how much work had been undertaken at that point. It was something of a rollercoaster for the dedicated team who drew in thousands of pounds, but the process had not been without its disappointments, as well as its triumphs. Not all funding that was hoped for had actually materialised, and the woodworm in the roof meant losing some of the original ceiling, but plans were forging ahead and the new building was triumphantly arising from the old. There were good reasons for celebration.

Sandra told the meeting then about what was needed to go forward to the next stage. Ensuring the building became fully operational again was to involve the creation of a garden which would house the World Peace Flame. This had been brought to Brynberian by Julie Marsden. (We wrote about the lovely Julie and her Peace Walk here in the magazine.)

Getting the floor ready – October 2019

Decking was also required. So were fixtures and fittings. Large windows to make the most of the gorgeous location of the building were going to be a major feature, and to ensure sustainable heating a ground source heat pump was planned. There was to  be underfloor heating… so no more freezing or doing yoga in overcoats, as one local person joked. The stage had gone and was to be replaced by a moveable one. An extra room had been created in the roof space and a whole new toilet block was underway.

It was hoped that the centre would also offer start-up space for the development of small businesses as a means of encouraging local people to improve their circumstances.

The local community raised funds through the 100 club, donations and activities. Local people offered their services in demolition work and in applying for national funding, and more grant applications were underway.

Sandra Llewellyn and Cris Tomas in the newly refurbished Hall – December 2019

Sandra outlined the thinking behind the whole project, stressing that continuation of the Welsh language and traditions were essential to the community. The intention to reduce the carbon footprint was uppermost in the plans too, hence the ground source heating plan.

Improving health and wellbeing was another priority, supporting the community to move into an age where we must take greater responsibility for our own and our community’s health, instead of relying upon beleaguered health services.

Brynberian continues to be steeped in history and local legend, and the centre also planned to include a heritage centre available to locals and visitors.

Since then the hard work and dedication of this community has wrought wonders, refreshing and reviving this remarkable resource and bringing it up to date .

We are now delighted to announce that Brynberian Village Hall is up and running again in all it’s shiny new magnificence.

Take a look at the fun film of the happy volunteers cleaning the shiny new premises (link below). It has been made by local film-maker Caroline Juler. You can also read about Caroline Juler and her other film-making projects here on Pembrokesire.Online.

If you have any questions or if you want to offer skills or time, please contact: dsllewellyn@hotmail.com

Kitty Parsons

Kitty Parsons

Kitty is an incomer, with five summers under her belt and the knowledge that even the wettest and greyest of winters have not diminished her love of Pembrokeshire. She knows she will never live long enough to be considered a local but hopes to leave some small mark through writing about this beautiful county and its people.

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