Hall heyday over, but many still lively

Julia Hewitt, Bettina Hockey and Caroline Richards, all of Deviot, with dog Holly at the Deviot Memorial Hall.
Julia Hewitt, Bettina Hockey and Caroline Richards, all of Deviot, with dog Holly at the Deviot Memorial Hall.

THE SIGHT of an amenities block floating along the Tamar River wasn't soon forgotten by witnesses.

The building from Beauty Point was sold to the Kelso Yacht Club for about $600, and was transported on the river to the tiny coastal hamlet 40 years ago.

In time it was renamed the Kelso Community Hall and quickly became the town's meeting point.

"It was a big thing to come to the hall," hall member Margaret Mallett said.

While the hall does not hold the themed birthday parties and social get-togethers of its past, groups still meet there on a weekly basis.

"We have the ladies' eight- ball, that's a chance to have a natter and a cup of tea," Ms Mallett said.

"It's good for the community."

Halls continue to be a place of meeting in times of crises.

Kelso Community Hall secretary June Beckett said members of the hall banded together when one woman struggled with a family emergency.

"We are a close community," Ms Mallett said.

Deviot Hall's Caroline Richards agreed small communities were the best communities.

She moved to the town tucked next to the Tamar River after searching Australia for the strongest sense of community spirit.

"I searched before moving for the most proactive community," Ms Richards said.

The hall is the centre of her new home's heart.

Each Saturday, residents and visitors gather for the town's basket market, paying for or swapping fresh produce for fresh produce and enjoying a coffee.

The hall is surrounded by a bountiful community garden, resident Bettina Hockey's idea, and a tennis court.

Residents hope to fund a new kitchen and disabled toilets.

Driving from Launceston to Sidmouth, visitors are greeted by the creamy yellow facade of the town's war memorial hall.

The huge building is home to sport and community events.

Residents chop wood to sell for its upkeep.

The hall was created after the Sidmouth School moved to Exeter and the ground was leased to resident Neill Campbell.

"It was a 99-year lease for a shilling," hall secretary Dianna Lockhart explained.

Tenders for the building were called in February, 1955.

Work began in March the same year.

The West Tamar Council had a fight on its hands in 2001 when it tried to close the hall down.

Mrs Lockhart said she and several residents door- knocked, petitioning to keep their hall alive.

"You've just got to have somewhere if people wanted to hold things," she said.


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