Page 5, 16th November 1951

16th November 1951
Page 5
Page 5, 16th November 1951 — THE HALL THAT JACK, MICK AND BERT BUILT

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By a Staff Reporter RI1.1. McCartney suggested it to the Rector at 11 o'clocl one nightand telt sure that the money would be there. too.

Fred Copeman, the ex-Communist, was roped in, and with Fr. Quinlan, Fr. Butler, and Bill, the labour force was recruited.

They got Jack and Fred, the bricklayers, Bill and Michael and Eddie, George and Reg. Two plumbers named Joe came along, and a trio of carpenters, George and Maurice and Dick.

A couple of Micks and urns turned up, with Ernie, another Bill, and Frank and George and Peter.


I he word went further still and eventually about fifty wives at Downham. Kent, resigned themselves to tIse fact that for the next few months their husbands would not be able to do that bit of gardening, and other odd jobs, in the evening. They would be round at the church.

Bill's idea was that the Good Shepherd parish ought to have a hall, and could have one if the men gave their time and took off their coats.

The idea of a temporary hall was considered and rejected.

An architect was needed-and bne turned up out of the blue from another parish with the offer of his voluntary services.

They all, most of them sheer amateurs took off their coats, including the priests, and set about digging the foundations, They put down a massive raft of reinforced concrete. Then they bought a war-time Ministry of Works precast concrete frame and put that up.

Professionals and amateurs, side by side, all volunteers, laid bricks and put on the roof.

A non-Catholic electrician fixed the fluorescent lighting, and others put in the pipes for gas cooking and water-heating.


The whole of the inside was beautifully painted-and to crown it all, two instructors from the Bromley School of Art, both non-Catholics, covered the whole of one end with a mural illustrating the men at work.

Yes, one lady did come into it, because no Bert or Mick or Eddienot even Bill-appeared to have a ghost of an idea how to make and hang curtains.

Six months to the day after the first spadeful of earth had come out of the site, the Bishop of Southwark arrived last Saturday night to Ness the Cross Keys Hall-all bought and paid for.

It was a splendid family gathering. not least because the wives were at last re-united with their husbands for a whole evening. and because Bishop Cowderoy described the hall as an acquisition not only to the parish but to his diocese generally.

But everyone agreed that the best thing about the whole job was the Catholic family spirit that built it.

Only one thing went wrong. The last person out of the presbytery before the opening ceremony carefully locked all the doors and windows and left the front door key inside.

But Bill. fixed that, too, and first thing on Monday morning put in a new pane of glass.

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