Abbots Langley campaigners one step closer to new community arts hub at Henderson Memorial Hall

Watford Observer: Simon Ash has been spearheading the campaign for several years. Simon Ash has been spearheading the campaign for several years.

Campaigners are one step closer to transforming an under-used Abbots Langley hall into "an essential" community hub and arts centre, after being given a £25,000 grant.

The Henderson Hub Company was awarded the capital grant by Three Rivers on Monday.

This financial backing means campaigners are that much nearer to acquiring the £50,000 expected to complete the first stage of the Henderson Memorial Hall renovation project.

Campaigners hope the hall in the High Street will eventually have a quality performing arts centre and exhibition space.

Simon Ash, who has been spearheading the campaign for several years, spoke at the district council’s executive meeting on Monday.

Mr Ash said: "Abbots Langley is well provided for when it comes to activity and sports clubs for the young and old alike, but the artistic young of the village currently have very limited outlets for their interests and skills.

"The Hub would provide opportunities to witness and engage with a variety of artistic pursuits giving them an extended range of experiences when choosing educational and career paths."

The hall is home to a number of community groups, including the Abbots Langley Players, the Abbots Langley Gilbert and Sullivan Society and the Centralian Players.

Yet Mr Ash said the hall spends many days of the year unused as there is limited stage lighting and insufficient facilities at the venue.

Mr Ash said: "The grant will make a significant contribution to the fund-raising effort being carried out by our team and help secure an essential resource for the community of Abbots Langley."

He added the grant would provide the village "with a facility which makes available the visual, literary and performing arts to the wider community".

The group are hoping to set up a cafe shop and exhibition area in the hall as phase one of the project, before moving on to install lighting and sound equipment in the theatre.

Mr Ash commented that the Hub, which would be free to enter, would provide an indoor space for people to gather and feel part of the community, adding that this will be particular benefit to those who live alone.

The hall, which is more than 100-years-old, was left in trust by the Henderson family. It is currently managed by the Abbots Langley Parish Council.

The total capital cost of the four phases of the project is estimated to be £130,000. Once the Henderson Hub Company completes its registration as a charity it will look towards other possible funding sources.

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