Hall with memorial plaque, Mary Ann Kennedy
Descriptions of Ardgour Memorial Hall in the 1930s reveal that its two rooms were lit by paraffin lamps and warmed by an open coal fire. Incorporating an earlier smaller hall, it was built in 1932 in memory of recently deceased local chieftain Alexander MacLean, who had enjoyed a party and often organised ceilidhs. A commemorative plaque can still be seen on the wall outside of the main room.
At this time the hall was used for ceilidhs, play rehearsals, Badminton, dances and other social gatherings- in the 1940s the general committee included representatives from the Badminton Club, Dramatic Club, Hall Management Committee and the Arts and Crafts Committee. There are records from during the Second World War showing that the secretary applied for a catering license and was asked detailed questions about who would be using this and what exactly they needed- “Are you applying for a permit for tea milk and sugar only. If not, state for what else you are applying’”- essential detail at a time of strict rationing.
The hall was extended in the 1970s at a cost of £6333.84. The stage was added at this point and commemorated the Honorable Muriel MacLean of Ardgour, who directed Drama Club productions for the annual Argyll Drama competitions. In 2015 the Hall was further renovated to include such luxuries as damp proof membranes, triple glazing, and insulation! The old school sat adjacent to the hall. For a time the two were connected by a strip of land which served as the school playground, though one former headteacher recalled that with no fences there wasn’t a clear boundary and the children could wander to the nearby fields and woods. One room in the hall was used to cook and serve school dinners.
Ardgour Memorial Hall is one example of the many village halls throughout the west coast- each with their own history and back story. It is hard to overstate how important facilities like this are to many west coast communities where there are often few other public spaces or services. Often owned and run by community organisations and councils, they are flexible and multifunctional spaces that can be adapted to suit local needs.
If you visit Ardgour hall today you will find a well-equipped space with several rooms, catering facilities and a stage, that sees events and sessions from concerts to birthday parties to fundraising events to the school pantomime to screenings of sports matches to community consultations and workshops- and more. Heritage photographs featuring Ardgour through the ages adorn the walls. The coal fire has been blocked up- though with rising fuel costs there are suggestions it should be brought back into use again!
As contributed by Ardgour Memorial Hall, with supplementary information provided by Fiona MacLean