They represent the largest network of community-owned facilities in rural Britain and remain social bastions of small communities.
There are 10,000 village halls in England, including one in Newbald, a village atmospherically located along the 129km route of the Wolds Way.
At the centre of a community numbering about 1,000 residents, Newbald village hall is currently undergoing the final phase of a major modernisation and extension.
Jenni Howard, who chairs the trustees and village hall management committee, explained that the work is expected to be finished early next month.
“The village hall has been there for 40 or 50 years and over the last four or five years we have brought it up to scratch,” she said, before going on to list improvements that cover everything from a new paint job, to flooring, toilets and the addition of a disabled facility, to a new kitchen.
With the hall being big enough for 120 people, a more modest space is needed to cater for smaller groups, and so a new meeting room is being added to seat 40 people.
Storage space and a new entrance way are being built too, as well as an office that Mrs Howard hopes will encourage an outreach post office, being temporarily run out of the hall’s kitchen, to stay at the hall.
The village shop which incorporated a post office, shut over the last decade. As such, the hall and places like the village playing fields and its two pubs, The Gnu Inn and The Tiger Inn, are even more vital as community hubs.
A combination of grant funding has made the work on the hall possible, including from the European LEADER programme, the parish council, Robert B Massey Memorial Trust, the Lottery and The Bernard Sunley Charitable Foundation.
The hall already hosts pop-up cinema screenings, monthly acoustic music sessions and other regular activities including a monthly ‘cake and natter’ get-together that is a hit with older villagers. The latter was begun by resident Emma Hibbs with donations raised from carol singing.
The hall is part of the East Riding Association of Rural Community Buildings, a network of community venues which allows members to exchange ideas.
Mrs Howard said: “There is a demand in for the hall, it’s a community resource. About every six months we consult with villagers about what activities they want.
“I think this is a community that is becoming more ‘alive’ now, with parents that are working who come back home and don’t want to travel to find things to do – they want to be able to go down the road and do something – and Newbald is the sort of place where, if you want to go out, see what’s going on and meet people, you can. That community spirit is definitely there.”
Newbald is located about 12 miles north west of Hull and four miles south of Market Weighton.
It consists of the larger village of North Newbald and the smaller hamlet of South Newbald. Just a field separates the two and they share the same community facilities.
The Church Rooms on the village green are a base for a local youth club, and the village has its own school, Newbald Primary, rated ‘Good’ by Ofsted.