Plans for historic Halesworth Rifle Hall given public support

The future of a run-down hall is looking bright after the public gave their support to its new caretakers.

Halesworth Rifle Hall, which dates back to 1792, was officially handed over to the newly formed Rifle Hall Trust on April 1. Less than a fortnight later, tentative plans to ensure the historic building remains at the heart of the community were given a seal of approval from local people.

The charitable trust, whose members include actor Bernard Hill, held an open day at the hall on Saturday.

The chairman of the trustees, Tony Goldson, said it was an overwhelming success.

'We had in excess of 300 people come through the doors during the day,' he said.

'We had representatives from various local organisations, including Halesworth Community Transport, the Cut and the library, explaining to people what we hope to do here.

'It was absolutely brilliant – better than any one of us could have anticipated.'

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Hall owner Waveney District Council last year invited people in Halesworth to put forward proposals on how they would run the venue.

Three local groups expressed an interest and the proposal selected was the one that, in the view of the authority, would best fulfil the charitable objects of the building – to maintain it as a 'village hall' for the people of Halesworth.

The group, led by John Marshall-Potter, is now pushing forward with the first stages of a planning application to revamp the premises, which was originally used as a theatre and later as a drill hall by the rifle corps

Mr Marshall-Potter said: 'The hall has stood on that site for 218 years and is of strong historic importance to the town. We want to preserve the history of the building whilst making it fit for the 21st century. We have held several consultations in the hall with Waveney's conservation officer, our architect, Waveney's planning officer and English Heritage. Between us we have come up with what we all feel is the right way forward for the hall.'

Sizeable contributions have already been placed into a start-up fund and a variety of local companies have pledged to help out.

For more information see or call 07557 37976.