History of Beccles Public Hall

Much to the delight and gratitude of the Beccles Public Hall directors, four members of Beccles U3A have compiled a book of the building’s rich and ever-changing history from its beginnings in 1785 right up to the present day.

Barry Darch, convenor of the research group comprising Lynda Ayres, Rosemary Hewlett and Alan Townsend and himself, said, ” Although the Hall was built to bring people of independent means to Beccles and first functioned as an assembly room for the better-off and as a theatre, it came to serve in the 1800s a huge variety of purposes, including as a school, town library and a venue for a wide range of lectures, entertainments and educational activities for all.

This tradition has continued to today; and it is a great credit to the management and all the volunteers who support the Public Hall that it is still very much a multi-purpose building that is an essential part of the town’s culture.”

The research group drew on a wide range of historical information, including the Rix Collection in Lowestoft Record Office and material in Beccles Museum, and benefited from Beccles’ long tradition of local historians, several of whom generously shared material from their findings. Interviews were also conducted with local residents who recalled such aspects of the building’s history as its use as a British Restaurant in World War II and performances by some of the famous celebrities who have appeared in the venue.

The limited edition of the History of Beccles Public Hall, in A5 booklet form with over thirty pages and several colour photographs, is available for £2 to purchase from the Public Hall Box Office, which is open from Monday – Saturday, 10 am – 3 pm.

“Snap up your copy soon for £2 (all profits to Hall funds),” said James Aggett, Hall Manager.