02 Apr Improved facilities prove popular at Woodmead Halls
THE Woodmead Halls is enjoying one of its most successful years since it was opened in the 1980s and is now firmly established as one of the most popular and sophisticated community venues in Dorset.
In 2018 the halls Management Committee presided over the completion of a new kitchen, a smart new look for the exterior of the building, improvements to the small hall with a new wooden floor and sound proof doors than open into the main hall, refurbishment of the entrance hall and streamlining of the bar operation.
The halls now plays host to more than 100 different events every month as diverse as fitstep classes for energetic dancers to the more sedate short mat bowls.
This programme of refurbishment, most of it carried out by volunteer labour, is enabling the halls to kick off its ‘village hall’ reputation and emerging as a venue capable of hosting the most ambitious events.
The new extended and re-equipped kitchen has proved to be a great boon to the halls, described by one local chef as “the best in the area”. It means that chefs can cater comfortably for 175 guests, making the halls the ideal venue for annual dinners, wedding breakfasts and banquets.
The excellent stage facilities at the Woodmead have been recognised by the town’s two stage organisations, Lyme Regis Pantomime Society and Lyme Regis Musical Theatre (formerly the operatic society.) Both groups have taken the decision to move away from the Marine Theatre, the Pantomime Society having just completed their second production at the halls and the Musical Theatre preparing for the production of Cole Porter’s popular hit show ‘Anything Goes’ being staged between May14-18.
With a bigger stage, more comfortable dressing rooms and on-site parking, the Woodmead Halls offers many advantages over the Marine Theatre at a considerably reduced cost, an important consideration with the high expense of staging popular shows.
More than 100 different events and activities use the halls every month, playing host to such diverse interests as yoga, pilates, dance classes, sequence dancing, art classes, short mat bowls and bingo sessions.
Among the organisations that regularly use the halls are the Lyme Regis Town Band, the U3A, Lyme Regis Cancer Research UK and Home Start.
The halls are also regularly used by Lyme Regis Town Council for special events, including the Mayor’s annual Civic Night and Dorset County Council presentations. The Woodmead also acts as one of the town’s two polling stations for elections and is the designated emergency centre for Lyme Regis.
The halls are among the most green in Dorset with a solar system which generates electricity, keeping the Woodmead energy costs to a minimum and raising significant funds by selling electricity back into the national grid.
Another big asset in this digital age is the halls’ internet and wi-fi facilities with a large screen and three television screens linked to the system.
The halls are also a popular venue for children’s parties with the large hall allowing plenty of room for the kids to let off steam. Thee £100 fee for a three-hour party includes use of the kitchen and the halls own bouncy castle.
Management Committee chairman Philip Evans MBE commented: “Although we have a very small committee, we have made significant strides in transforming the Woodmead Halls into a real community centre rather than just a meeting place.
“We have continued the excellent work started by our Life-President Stan Williams who took over the halls in 1993 when it was used very infrequently and struggling financially. We have built revenues over the years which are now enabling us to carry out ongoing refurbishment and improvements of facilities making it was the best equipped for many miles.”