Kirk Braddan

The new church hall was completed and dedicated in November 2010, almost a century after the dedication of the existing church hall. The new hall forms an extension of the existing building, which remains in use.

The building of Braddan Church Hall 1909-1911

by Caroline McDonald

Picture of Hall

The first mention of a "Church Room" is made in the parish magazine for March 1909, when it is reported that "the Braddan Restaurant [where was this?] has been secured by the Vicar and Wardens as a Church Room for the winter session".

In August 1909 the appeal is "WANTED, a site for building a Parish Room. Who will help us out of the difficulty?"

In July 1910 fund-raising is mentioned. A "Penny Fund" is to be set up to buy the site. 24,000 pennies (100) are needed and promises had been made for 1,500 pennies. An "advertisement stall" was also to be set up. In August volunteers were asked to notify the curate, the Rev C Barlow, if they were willing to collect pennies. In October the Penny Fund reports the addition of a further 400 pennies, and an appeal to reach 10 before the November issue.

Meanwhile a Great Bazaar is to be held on 29 and 30 November and 1 December at the Palace, Douglas. Stall-holders included Lady Raglan, the wife of the Lieutenant Governor, Mrs Moore from the Vicarage and the Mothers' Union, and there was a suggestion of a Farm Stall to be run by Mr Kermode of Pulrose Farm, who asked for butter, eggs, potatoes, poultry and rabbits: "No objection will be made to the gift of live animals etc., in fact, anything that can be raised or produced on a farm." For those of us who remember the Palace Ballroom, where presumably the Bazaar was set up, it must have been quite a sight.

An unusual event was the Bag Competition — any kind of bag was to be made and sent with 6d. entry fee. Competitors were to stitch their name inside the bags, which were to be marked with the price for sale and which class they were in: (1) the most useful, (2) the most original, (3) the prettiest. At the Bazaar the bags were to be fastened to a screen, and everyone was asked to vote by placing a penny in the bag thought most deserving of a prize. The bag containing the most money in each class was the winner. Presumably the pennies went to the hall funds.

In November, as well as a reminder about the forthcoming Bazaar, a Talent Competition was announced, with the Talent being one shilling, and the increased talents to be returned by 1st May 1911. The December magazine states, "Before the issue of the December magazine the great event for 1910 for Kirk Braddan will be over and, we trust, will have been a great success. After the Bazaar we must not allow ourselves to become slack, but still continue to work until we have the amount of money needed."

The January 1911 edition of the Manx Church Magazine provides lists of all the stall-holders at the Bazaar. Thanks were expressed to Athol Blakemore's Orchestra who played during the Bazaar. The balance sheet was published showing that the final profit banked was 506.5s.7d.

The report of February states that the site for the Church Room, as the Hall was known, was being cleared, and mentioned local farmers carting stones from the Quarry in Douglas, possibly the one on Douglas Head above the South Quay.

By May the plans and specifications had arrived. The architect, though not mentioned in the Church Magazine, was Frank Loughborough Pearson, the son of John Loughborough Pearson, the architect of the new church.

Matters rumbled on until August, when it is reported that several meetings of the Building Committee had been held. "On July 1st, matters were brought to a finish by the acceptance of the tender of Messrs James Cowle and Sons, subject to the approval of the Executive Committee." The latter, which met immediately, approved the Building Committee's decision. On Monday July 10th the workmen were on site and work began. It was hoped that the foundation stone would be laid in September. Further appeals for funds were made.

James Cowle of the building firm was also the Diocesan Architect, practising as an architect as well as a builder. Two buildings designed by him are still to be seen: the Isle of Man Prison and the Douglas railway station.

By September a leaflet, "with a sketch of the Church Room on it", had been prepared for sending to friends off the Island, asking for funds. The Penny Fund was still continuing.

By November 1911 the walls of the Hall were being erected, and the writer "hoped to see the window frames fixed when this Magazine is in your hands". An account of the laying of the foundation stone on Thursday 5th October is given.

"A red-letter day for Braddan, for His Excellency Lord Raglan CB, accompanied by Lady Raglan, laid the foundation stone of the Church Room. A short service was held in Church at 3 pm. Canon Savage RD [then the Vicar of St Thomas] was the preacher. After the service all proceeded to the "site" singing The Church's one foundation is Jesus Christ her Lord. On arrival at the site, the Vicar read prayers. Mr Cowle then presented His Excellency with a silver trowel, and requested him to lay the Foundation Stone. Lord Raglan then laid the stone, saying, "I declare this stone to be duly laid in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Amen."

The stone can still be seen by the main entrance. The Church Room News of January 1912 noted that there would be a meeting on Wednesday 17th January in the Vestry "to consider ways and means of raising a further sum of 700 in aid of the Church Room". It had already been decided on 13th December to open a subscription list and various donations were already promised. In February the subscriptions stood at 51. Further donations were acknowledged in March, and the April magazine reports "it is probable that the new Church Room will be ready in June. Since last month's issue, two more promises of 25 have been received — we still need THREE more, if we are not to hold a big bazaar."

The Hall was finally opened on Wednesday 10th July by the Lord Bishop. The opening was preceded by a short service in Church, and the Bishop was presented with a silver key as a memento of the occasion. Fund-raising was still continuing, and it was hoped to pay off the debt by Christmas 1912, though this did not happen. In September an appeal was made for any "Parishioners who will cart some stones from the Quarry to the Church Hall site for the boundary walls etc. We need about fifty or sixty more loads."

As one reads the account of the building of the original Church Hall, which we now seek to extend and improve, much of what went on seems familiar — the small and large donations, the continual fundraising activities by parishioners and the decision to start building in faith, before the sum needed was raised.

We also look forward to providing a centre for the people of Braddan which will be of benefit for many years to come.

This account appeared in the April, May and June 2003 issues of Branch, the Braddan parish magazine.