History of Otterhampton Village Hall

Old black and white photo of Otterhampton village hall
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Pre 1944

Before 1944 Otterhampton had no village hall, just a downstairs room at Jack Parsons’s home on Brookside, where they played Billiards and Whist. Jack’s house is still there today on the right side of the barn and water pump. The size of the room posed limitations on more varied activities.

The hall used to be an old malt house belonging to the Combwich and District Farmers Association and at one time was part of the property known as the ‘Towers’ owned by Henry Farthing-Leigh. In 1942 the malt house was sold to Frederick Henry and Muriel Amy Hawkins of Weston-Super-Mare.

Old black and white photo of Otterhampton village hall
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First Committee

The very first committee was made up of William Pardoe, Edward Jeanes, Alfred Bryer, Kenneth Haybittal, Sydney Kibby, Ernest Somers, William King, Walter Fielder, Louisa Redding, Margaret Stone, Eliza Cross and Mona Kibby.

Mr Haybittal the local bus proprietor was elected Chairman and Treasurer of the Village Hall committee and under his leadership the old malt house was renovated. Labour was supplied by villagers to excavate the floor and lay concrete but electricity had not yet arrived in Combwich at that time so an electric charging plant was installed. During the first two years a bar and skittle alley (in loft space above the main hall) were added.

Otterhampton Village Hall became a registered charity on 8th August 1949.

A newspaper article from 1981 about the village hall in the best kept village hall competition
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1970 - 1993

1970’s – further alterations were made with the help of a Community Council loan. The skittle alley was moved to its current home and further toilets were added to the ground floor.

1982 – 1989 – the short mat bowls room was created in the loft space of the former skittle alley with a single mat.

1987 – the Short Mat Bowls Club was formed and opened by Councillor Cartwright.

1991 – planning permission was obtained for further improvements.

Building works on Otterhampton village hall in 1993
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1993 – Nuclear Energy donated £4,000 for improvements to the hall. This enabled the following works:
• Roof to be completely replaced and in doing so allowed the whole of the first floor to be restructured
• A meeting room along with male and female toilets were created
• A concrete fire escape was installed at the back of the skittle alley
• The short mat bowls added their second mat
• On the ground floor the kitchen was relocated to its present position
• The social club area was enlarged
• Cupboards were installed at the back of the stage
• New tables and chairs were purchased
• The old heating system was replaced throughout the hall along with improvements to the lighting and electrical systems.
• The majority of this work was carried out by volunteers from the Social and Bowls Clubs, creating the Village Hall we have today.

the refurbished otterhampton village hall in 2021
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1993 - Present Day

Following the major refurbishment of the hall in 2021, it is hoped that this will now make it economically viable and energy efficient in the years to come. The enhanced user-friendly facilities, in particular the additional disabled facilities will make the hall welcoming to all users and ensure that it is ‘future proofed’.

Visit the Gallery to see a photographic journey of the refurbishment.

The Big Refurb

Mission Accomplished

The Big Refurb has been completed. After a few years of planning, hard work and fundraising by the Trustees and volunteers, the trades people have completed the works to make the hall welcoming and user friendly for the community. Add to that, the energy efficiency measures taken will help make the hall more economically viable. A lot of this took place whilst Covid 19 caused global disruption, with closures and restricted working practices. So it was wonderful on 6th August 2022 to have Roger Musgrove perform the ‘Grand Reopening’ ceremony.

A VERY BIG THANK YOU to everyone that helped to achieve this fantastic mission.

For the last couple of years plans have been in the making for a re-vamp of our Village Hall. The refurbished hall will provide a lasting legacy for future generations in the Parish.

Our Mission

To make the Village Hall more attractive, useable by everyone in the Parish and nearby villages, economically viable and energy efficient. The Hall is already a central hub and an asset in the Parish and we aim to further promote the use of the Hall to increase usage.

What We hope to Achieve

The Hall is in need of a refurbishment to bring it up to a safe, modern-day standard.

This will be done by:

  • providing an accessibility ramp and an electronic door suitable for those with disabilities and parents with young children and pushchairs
  • installation of a Stannah stairlift to allow easy access to all areas of the Hall
  • installing Velux windows in the Short Mat Bowls room to provide light and ventilation
  • providing a small meeting room
  • upgrading kitchen cupboards and worktops
  • removal of asbestos
  • installation of new oil tank
  • improving fire and smoke alarm provision as necessary
    • upgrading the bar and social area
    • upgrading the WC facilities as necessary
    • installing LED lighting throughout the building
    • replacing the boiler and thermostat
    • installation of photovoltaic solar panels
    • double glazing throughout
    • redecoration and new flooring throughout
    • new furniture throughout
    • ensuring all rooms are fit for multi-purpose use
    • installation of fire doors with vision panels
    • installing a hearing loop in the main hall

    The building work is being undertaken by Bridgwater based company – Harris Brothers and Collard


    We have now secured a fantastic £282,400 towards the refurbishment. Funding has been kindly awarded from the following organisations:

    • ACRE (Action for Communities in Rural England)

    • Bernard Sunley Foundation

    • Fairfield Charitable Trust

    • Garfield Weston Foundation

    • HPC Community Fund – Somerset Community Foundation

    • Norman Family Charitable Trust

    • Otterhampton Parish Council

    • Sedgemoor District Council

    • Somerset County Council Carbon Reduction Scheme

    Once the hall is refurbished to a high standard and will provide a warm and welcoming venue in the Parish, the Village Hall Trustees will proactively encourage more use of the hall by local residents and businesses in the area.


    This will be done via this website, the Parish website, www.combwich.org.uk, Otter Tales magazine, Facebook and Instagram to ensure that a wide audience are aware of the excellent facilities available.

    This website will offer easy online booking and provides the opportunity to share information about progress and events.


    After what has been a very challenging 18 months for everyone, the hall has now reopened after the lockdown and refurb.

    There is still some work to be completed including the disabled ramp at the entrance and a new oil tank.

    We are planning a Grand Reopening event to enable everyone to come and celebrate the refurbished hall.

    You can view photos in the Gallery.