Parish Hall c. 1918

The Parish Hall has been standing on the crossroads in the centre of Backwell since 1910. The Rector of the time, Rev. Caudwell, had recognised the need for the Hall and set up an organising committee to fundraise and oversee its construction.

The land on which the Hall was built was donated by the Marquess of Bath and the c. £900 it cost to build was mainly raised by public subscription. Under the foundation stone was placed a penny, contributed by a poor woman who died before the building was completed. The Hall was opened in March 1910 and in July 1910 hosted the "Backwell Revels," a two day celebration. The Revels raised £285 which cleared the final debt on the Hall's building. The clock was purchased to celebrate the coronation of King George V for a cost of £30.

Rev. Caudwell's vision for the Hall was that it should belong to the people of the village. It has always been managed by a Board of Trustees formed of representatives of local organisations, including the Church, the Parish Council and groups who use the Hall. Some of these – such as Backwell Drama Club – have made the Hall their home for decades, while some like the Backwell Nursing Association have ceased to exist and others, including the Women's Institute, have gained their own premises.

Baby show in aid of the newly-opened Parish Hall 1910
Winning baby - Jack Sams on far left.

The Hall has fulfilled a critical function for the village during difficult times. During the Second World War the Hall became a base for the Backwell Canteen and Club for H.M. forces which in 1942 alone served over 28,000 men. The parish ARP personnel also operated out of the Hall and it was earmarked for sleeping accommodation for the homeless, should this have become necessary. Between 1959 and 1962 it served as an overflow classroom for the primary school pending the opening of their new building. However, the Hall has at various times run into financial difficulties, and had to consider radical plans to ensure its survival. In 1957 an approach was made by the County Library Service to partition off part of the Hall to form a library. In the late 1960s the Youth Club, who hired the Hall 4 evenings a week, made a bid to lease the Hall from the Management Committee on a permanent basis and take over its day to day running. As youth clubs were eligible for county council grants, this would have been a way of funding the upkeep of the Hall. Neither of these plans ultimately came to fruition, and the Trustees have succeeded in maintaining the Hall and keeping it financially viable.

A number of modifications have been made to the building over the years. A new entrance and toilets were added in 1955, funded partly by a grant from the Backwell Victory Fund following the end of World War 2. The work was carried out by the local builder Brenton Lott, grandson of William Lott who was the main contractor for the original building of the Hall. In 1991 a new kitchen and disabled toilets were added.

Since the celebration of the Hall’s centenary in the summer of 2010, attention has been turned to the challenges of ensuring that the Edwardian building can continue to stand, and serve the residents of the village, for another hundred years.