Parochial Hall and Home Guard
On 5 January 1912 an uncomfortably crowded Roundhay St John’s Church parochial meeting, the first social gathering of its sort, was held in the restricted space available at the old National School. A proposal was made to provide a public hall or adequate meeting place ‘to create a spirit of friendship and greater unity amongst the people of the parish’ and ‘in which all branches of the Church work might be concentrated’.
It was not until 1925 that land was secured for £1,000 and the cost of erecting the building were estimated at £5,000, all to be raised by public subscription. Although erected under the auspices of Roundhay St John Church the Hall was to be run by an independent management committee and made available to all denominations. Ultimately only £3,000 was raised so the building had to be mortgaged and the management committee was dogged by financial difficulties for almost 30 years before it was put on a sound footing.
On 18 August 1927 The Lord Mayor, Alderman Hugh Lupton, and the Lady Mayoress, Ella Lupton attended the ceremony of ‘Laying the foundation stone of Roundhay Parochial Hall’. The foundation stone is inscribed with the date and the words 'This stone was laid by Col Sir Edward A. Brotherton'. In his remarks Lord Brotherton noted that “its management was to be non-political, and non-sectarian, a public meeting place for the community”. Lord Brotherton, first Baron of Wakefield, made his fortune from his chemical works at Wakefield and resided from 1913 to 1930 at ‘Roundhay (Allerton) Hall', now (2018) the Spire Leeds Hospital on Jackson Avenue.
Home Guard Club
Roundhay Parochial Hall houses the Parochial and Home Guard Club, now a snooker club. In 1940 more than 100 men all of whom were under or over military age joined the L.D.V. (Local Defence Volunteers). In 1942 the ‘Home Guard’ was given permission to use the Parochial Hall as a club and a licence was granted to keep up the fighting morale. All public houses had been severely rationed but the Home Guard was given priority.
In 1992, to celebrate the Golden Jubilee of the Home Guard club, a scroll was produced in beautiful copperplate script:
"To commemorate the Golden Jubilee - the 50th Anniversary of the founding of the ‘Parochial and Home Guard Club’, known originally as the ‘Home Guard Club’ the ‘Many’ members congratulate and pay tribute to the ‘Few’, those founder members without whose ideals, spirit and comradeship the club could not have survived.
Before the outbreak of war, a Young Men's Church Club occupied the Parochial Hall most of whose members were called up for military service, later it was used by Dunkirk survivors who were billeted in the Roundhay area in 1940.
Harry Penfold, who died in 1990, was the last original member of the club. He was one of the L.D.V. The Local Defence Volunteers, more than 100 men volunteered their services in 1940, all of whom were under or over military age. The total armoury at that time consisted of six .303 Enfield rifles, from the First World War plus 30 rounds of ammunition.
The men drilled with dummy rifles or sweeping-brush handles, the drills taking place on wet days in the Parochial Hall (Shades of Dad's Army). A hut on Roundhay Park golf course was manned dusk till dawn two hours on and two hours off to guard against attack by German parachutists. At that time Hitler had decreed that any armed and uniformed civilians would be shot on sight and for that reason the L.D.V. wore khaki denims, army boots and an L.D.V. armband. The headgear was trilbies, bowler hats, caps or knitted balaclavas.
In 1942 the then Home Guard was given permission to use the Parochial Hall as a club and a licence was granted to keep up the fighting morale. All public houses had been severely rationed but, for the above reason, the Home Guard was given priority. Wooden barrels were the order of the day but venting proved difficult.
The snooker club was formed with a few broken cues and an incomplete set of snooker balls, (one red was missing). Annual subscriptions were set at 5 shillings (25p). A Committee of 12 was elected, the first President was Major Hollis of Hollis and Webb. Corporal Ryder became the first Secretary and Harry Penfold, a committee member, was the first competition organiser.
Harry's first competition was the Fur and Feather Handicap, the first prize being a box of tomatoes (!!) at at time when almost everything else was rationed. 2 oz. - two ounces of butter, 4 oz. of sugar or jam, a little meat and points coupons or tins of beans or fish when available. These were the rations per person per week. Imported fruit and nuts were unobtainable.
The ‘Many’ salute the ‘Few’ whose energy and foresight has led to the thriving club of 1992. They would have been proud to know that what they began 50 years ago, when the future was dark and uncertain, still flourishes, despite its ups and downs, in this, its Golden Jubilee year.
(signed) Jack Barstow 1992 ”
Building of the Parochial Hall PDF 0.3 Mb
Home Guard (Named) 1943 PDF 8 Mb
Golden Jubilee Scroll 1992 PDF 2 Mb
Current use Last updated June 2015
Today the Parochial Hall is still very much a centre for community activities
It offers a large hall, two medium sized rooms and a smaller meeting room, all of which have been recently renovated
Over 20 different groups use the Parochial Hall regularly. Perhaps you might find something you want to get involved with?
To see what is going on and for contact details please click on