History of Beccles Public Hall is uncovered

The changing face of Beccles Public Hall.

The changing face of Beccles Public Hall. - Credit: Archant

A group of local history enthusiasts are preparing to publish their findings of a project to uncover the history of a Beccles building over the past 200 years.

Poster of a lecture given 100 years ago, reproduced with permission of Beccles Museum.

Poster of a lecture given 100 years ago, reproduced with permission of Beccles Museum. - Credit: Archant

The town’s Public Hall has been undergoing extensive repair and refurbishment in recent months while the group from The University of the Third Age (U3A) have focused on its past.

The U3A organisation offers life-enhancing and life-changing opportunities to retired and semi-retired people who come together and learn together.

Group convenor Barry Darch said, “The Public Hall has been a very significant part of Beccles life since the time of George III and it is a fascinating process to discover how it was used and what it has meant to the people of the town.

“It has been very encouraging to have had the help of many local people in locating sources and unravelling aspects of the building’s history.

“But there are still mysteries to solve, such as whether there really was an extensive fire in 1854, as reported in some English newspapers but apparently not in Suffolk ones.”

Built as Assembly Rooms and theatre in 1785, the Hall has been known by several different names and has had many different uses, including accommodating a school, providing a temporary home for the congregation of St Michael’s Church during its restoration in the Victorian period and as a “British Restaurant” during the Second World War, Mr Darch said.

Most Read

He added: “We have managed to find a lot of information from the Lowestoft Records Office and interviewed some of the older people in Beccles.

“We are hoping to produce a booklet with this information, but because we have so much now, we will probably put it online as well.”

Do you have memories of the Hall, photographs or information? If so the group will be delighted to hear from you, e-mail barry@darch.plus.com or ring 01502 711318.