Vigo Village Hall

The following article was written by John MacKenzie and first appeared in the Vigo Parish Notes in January 2021.

The Vigo Village Hall and Library
Image courtesy of Dick Hogbin 2021

I wonder how many current residents in Vigo were around when the Village was built in 1980/81? What some people won’t know is that work actually started in 1973 but for those of you not in the know, the building of the Village Hall was a long drawn out affair with many problems along the way. Gordon Taylor and his Vigo Residents’ Association Committee finally negotiated the completion seven years later with the help of grants, loans and generous contributions from people in the village.

Vigo Junior Choir was founded in 1979 by John Mackenzie – who still lives in the same house in Hornbeams – and the choir was invited to sing for the opening of the Village Hall. John wrote the words of a song in celebration of this to sing at the opening, penning the problems which had been encountered, referring to Gordon and other committee members by name in the song. The words were set to the well-known song from Joseph and his Technicolour Dreamcoat’- ‘Jacob and Sons’ (“Way, way back many centuries ago…”)

Since ‘Joseph’ was published by Novello – at that time, based at Borough Green just down the hill – John thought it expedient to get their permission as they owned the copyright. Imagine the dismay when he received a letter a few days before the opening saying that Andrew Lloyd-Webber had refused permission for the choir to sing it! As the words were relevant only to that one occasion and would only be sung the once, and no financial gain was to be made, John felt it very churlish not to give permission to it. Undaunted, however, the choir recited it, instead of singing it, at the official opening of the hall and it went down very well.

The words are reproduced here and the names may bring back memories for some of you. (You would need to know the tune of the song to get the full benefit from it.)

Vigo Village Hall Song – 1980
Way, way back many centuries ago
Not long after the Bible began,
Some people from our village sat round a table
And together they worked out a wonderful plan.

Vigo Village Hall!! – a place that could be used by anyone.
Vigo Village Hall!! – nobody knew of the problems to come.

They needed a committee to discuss the situation,
Mr. Leadbetter was the chairman in ’69.
Architects and covenants and contracts were discussed,
Mr. Connick was the chairman who was next in line.

Vigo Village Hall!! etc. etc. …….

Work was started in September ’73
Things went well at first but then …. CATASTROPHE!
The builder went (our story tells)
And started building something else.

Vigo Hall was elegant, the looks were fine,
The tasteful style was the ultimate in good design,
And this is why it caught the eye,
The people stopped to stare …
…. For the building took so long,
The tiles and roof were put on wrong!
Such a stunning hall of many problems,
How we knew the hall had many problems.
Things were looking very black, The builder said he wouldn’t come back!
Such a stunning hall of many problems,
How we knew the hall had many problems.

Gordon Taylor, he was Vigo’s favourite son,
Of all the village, Gordon was the special one.
His anger rendered such despair,
That’s how he lost his hair!
And when Gordon graced the scene
Committee worked out quite a scheme.
Their astounding planning took the biscuit
Quite the smoothest people in the district.
They got grants from far and near,
Loans from there and loans from here,
And at last in August 1980
Work resumed and made us all elated.

Thanks to Gordon Taylor and Roger Brown, Ken Buchan, Andy Yallop, Martin Coslett-Derby, Ken Lingwood, Peter Sutherland, Claire Parker, lan Miles, Vaughan Clarke and Margaret Allender, Mary Bond and Richard Moore, Peter Heydon …
… and most of YOU!

The following information regarding the Village Hall development was written by Don Banks, the first resident of Vigo Village:

“In February 1969 Croudace confirmed they would provide a site for the Village Hall we all wanted, but would not provide the building. The first Management Committee was set up immediately and fundraising events were initiated. The Committee obtained charitable status. The first estimate for the cost of constructing the building was £25,000, but by 1972 had increased to £35,000. A covenant scheme was set up and 258 residents signed up to pay £6 per year for seven years.

In 1973 a local builder offered a fixed price tender of £28,000 to build the hall. Unfortunately, no completion date clause was put into the contract. Work on the site started in May 1974 but went very slowly. Inflation was rampant and the building, not yet completed, was left deteriorating for nearly a year.

A new Village Hall Committee was appointed in 1976 and faced the builder requesting release from the contract. In view of possible legal action, the Committee was forbidden to hold its AGM in 1977. In November 1978 residents were told that the cost of remedial works and completion was now £80,000. What a situation!

For two years the Management Committee headed by Gordon Taylor, Ken Buchan and other stalwarts had investigated all possible ways of obtaining financial help. For the year 1980/81 Gravesham Borough Council agreed to a grant plus a loan. This, together with grants from Kent County Council, Meopham Parish Council, Croudace Ltd. and an advance payment of rent by the Rochester Diocese of the Church of England and a loan from the NW Kent Building Society, enabled the project to be put out to tender.

The tenders were now all above £90,000, but with the help of local authority officials and sterling work from our professional advisers, the work was started. Part of the decorating and finishing was completed by volunteers from the village. A second covenant scheme was introduced and residents were asked to pay £10 per year for ten years.”

Authors: John Mackenzie. Don Banks
Editors: Dick Hogbin, Tony Piper
Contributors: Paul Baylis
Acknowledgements: N/A
Last Updated: 21 January 2021