Friday, September 5, 2014

Origin of the "Tin Hut"

Those of us who are a certain age will remember the "Tin Hut" on an undeveloped patch of land at the corner of Aylesbury Street and Peel Road. It belonged to the Wesleyan Methodists and was used as a social and meeting centre, More importantly to me as a teenager it had two billiard tables and it became a favourite haunt of myself and my friends for a period in our lives.

During the second World War and after, when rationing was in force,  it was used  by the Ministry of Food to hand out ration books and process coupons. In the 1950s part of it was used for classroom space by the Secondary Modern school across the road.

I am indebted to John Taylor for digging out this account from Wolverton Express reports from the period. This is how it all came about.

At the corner of Peel Road and Aylesbury Street, on Saturday, September 20th 1919 a T shaped memorial hall was opened by the Wolverton Wesleyan Methodists. This was to be a centre for young people to meet and socialise, and having been reconstructed from two Army huts, bought at a Government auction sale at Ampthill, the dismantling and re-erecting had been voluntarily carried out by the members. As for the money, friends had lent £400 for two months interest free. Following that friends and members of the Church had lent sums of between £1 and £10 for a longer period whilst gifts had amounted to £26 with weekly collections raising £60. The cost had been £412 with cartage at £58 5s and sundries £39 14s 5d. Equipped with heating and lighting the accommodation measured 51 feet by 23 feet with the interior being match boarded and varnished, and the roof covered with felting and corrugated iron. There was also the provision of a lean to, containing the ladies’ kitchen, lavatories and cloakroom. Supported by Mrs. E. J. Penny, Mrs. Penny junior, Mr. F. Beach and Mr. G. Hyde, in presiding at the opening ceremony the Reverend Howard said that following the Armistice they thought that especially for the young they should have something tangible to mark their appreciation of God’s gifts to them. They wanted to express in a permanent way their sense of obligation to those of their brave men who had fallen, and there were two branches to this memorial scheme. One part related to the renovation of their Church and the other part was to provide a greater accommodation on the social side for the returning ‘boys,’ where they could find healthy recreation in a suitable place. The hall was therefore intended to be a branch of the Church in ‘the other part of the town,’ and soldiers had told him about the quality of the Ampthill huts. In a suitable address Mrs. Penny then declared the facility open, following which Miss Flossie Hyde presented her with a bouquet. Also on a floral theme in connection with the opening a flower show, arts and crafts exhibition and eisteddfod was held and from now on the meetings of the PSA would be held in the new centre. (In December 1921 the Wesleyan Church raised £153 towards liquidating the debt on the memorial hall.)
The picture here shows the hut in the background in a derelict state at the end of its days.

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