Way back in 1943 the idea of a village hall was first mooted and the Woodford Village Hall Fund Committee was formed. Local organisations were advised of the proposals and were encouraged to contribute. The local home guard became involved and were particularly helpful in many ways. In the December of that year the first whist drive and dance was held. Admission prices were 2/- or 9d (dance only) H M Forces 6d and the grand sum of £18 was raised!
In 1944 various fund raising efforts were held as the scheme began to develop momentum. Indeed, on 14th December 1945 a public meeting was held in Woodford and a general committee was formed consisting of 18 members and 12 organisation representatives.
On 1st February 1946 the committee was designated as becoming the first committee of The Woodford War Memorial Community Centre even though a brick had nor been laid and a site was still not found! The fund stood at just under £100.
Things began to get really serious when on 20th July 1946 a Grand Gala Sports day and fete was held at the cricket club. A.V.Roe (now British Aerospace) in Woodford also donated the proceeds of their open day to the fund amounting to £500.
1950 saw the formation of The Woodford Players and serious efforts to find a suitable site were instigated. By 1951 the fund stood at almost £3,000 and fund raising efforts were running at fever pitch with ten events in the year. In 1952 the present site was acquired on a lease from the Urban District Council, the fund stood at £3,500 and the first Rose Queen Gala took place on the Centre’s field. The Rose Queen Gala; becoming an annual event which continued for over 50 years.was the spirit of camaraderie among the villagers that many contributed to the interest free loan from local residents of £2,300 and similar from A.V.Roe of £1,500; all repayable over 12 years.
Work at last commenced and the committee chose to purchase the land instead of leasing. The hall was a large single room and was completed by the end of 1952. It was officially opened on 27th June 1953 by Mrs D.B.Shaw (the Chairman’s wife) with a Coronation year gala.
The running of the Centre was shortly thereafter vested in the management committee and this continues today. The Centre was registered as a charity and all ownership was handed over to the Charity Commissioners. Membership was healthy and in addition to The Woodford Players, badminton, bridge, dancing and archery clubs were soon formed. The Centre was a very popular addition to the Woodford night life when the cost of hiring the hall at this time was £3.10/- .
The plaque commemorating the building as a war memorial was unveiled In 1955, by Lady Barlow and Sir Roy Dobson CBE JP (of A.V.Roe) accepted the position as our president.
Such was the usage of the hall that in 1957 the interest free loans were paid off some 7½ years early.
In 1959 the small hall and kitchen were built at a cost of nearly £6,000 and again, thanks to the fund raising efforts and support from members, loans were paid off 5 years later.
In 1965 Mr D.B.Shaw resigned as chairman and was succeeded by Derek Blunt. In 1971 the final piece of the Centre was constructed with the building of the large stage and side extension which houses the bar area at a total cost of £12,000. This time it took nearly 10 years to repay the loans. Derek Blunt was to oversee a whole range of improvements during his term as chairman. Whilst the halls were soundly built, they were somewhat sparse.
The front porch was added in 1989, together with the provision of extra toilets and ensuring all areas of the Centre had disabled access. The children’s playground followed a few years later together with the car park extension.
The Centre has had its moments. The late Bob Monkhouse and other celebrities have visited on Rose Queen days. It became the home of Jazz North West for many years attracting some highly acclaimed performers, and more recently, as the home of “Blues in Woodford”, has claim to be a leading venue in South Manchester and Cheshire for blues fans. It hosted a big top circus in 1996 and the sight of elephants taking their morning stroll across the car park remains with many locals even today!