Still going strong

What we now call, the Village Room first opened in 1896 and few folk would have thought that all these years later it would still be the focus for most village activities. It was built as a lasting memorial to the great Victorian brewer, politician and philanthropist Pickering Phipps and given to the village by his wife and family.

It was originally built as a Reading Room where local men could access books and newspapers, improve their minds and in those early days, provide a recreational alternative to the local pub. However, as there was no other public meeting place in the village, the Reading Room quickly became the place where every kind of social event could be held. Several years earlier, Pickering Phipps had imported a piece of railway history into Collingtree High Street as a temporary Village Hall. This had been the timber built Mess Hall used by for workers building the rail link (date)   between the main line at Blisworth and Northampton. The structure was moved lock stock and barrel from Blisworth and stood in what was a builder’s yard in the High Street until sadly it was demolished to build three new cottages.

Although the Reading Room was given by the Phipps family to the village it came under the ownership of the Church Diocese (as the only body at that time able to manage its affairs) and continues to be run and maintained by Collingtree Parochial Church Council (PCC) As a result, for many years it was known as the ‘Church Room’.

An extract from a church magazine of 1919 captures a vanished age:

“The Church Room was used for the first time, since being re-roofed and renovated, on November 6th with a Lantern lecture on behalf of the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel. The Room is now open on Monday, Wednesday and Friday evenings as a men’s Club; on Tuesday evenings for the Choral Society; and on Thursday evenings there is some sort of ‘social’ every week. The Room is a great asset to the village and we must set to work to wipe off the debt on the work done to it, which amounts to something over £100.”

Over the years additions were made that included a small kitchen and a stage and particularly during the post - war years,  the Room was well used for amateur dramatics and concerts.

When the old Grange (former home of the Phipps family) was demolished and the village expanded with the building of Spinney Drive, Lodge Avenue and Lake Walk, the new residents also looked to the Village Room for their social activities.

As the variety of events held increased along with the numbers attending, so did the requirements of modern regulations. In 2002 a fundraising campaign was launched to improve the Room’s facilities and access. Over £40,000 was raised mostly from the village and local supporters.

Further very recent improvements including new kitchen equipment and complete redecoration now makes the Room the ideal venue for every kind of social occasion including birthday parties, meetings, dinners exercise classes and lectures.

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