Author Topic: Wesley Halls  (Read 5782 times)

chrism

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Wesley Halls
« on: August 04, 2009, 10:37:15 PM »
Hi all,

My name's Chris and I grew up in Rangefield Road, living there between 1987 and 2005 when I moved to the south coast.

I spent a lot of my childhood at Wesley Halls, various youth clubs and groups I was involved in, plus working with people with learning difficulties there towards the end of my years in Downham.

As such, I am intrigued by the place. I heard from people at the time that Wesley Halls had an air raid shelter and was in fact used as a mortuary during the second world war. Rumour had it that the shelter is still there - albeit sealed now.

Also, in terms of the mortuary aspect, does anybody have any other information? I understand that Sandhurst Road School was bombed in 43 in which tragically 33 school children and a teacher were killed. There is a memorial carved stone on the external walls of the hall top hall, but I don't remember the names on those stones.

The halls do have a spooky feel to them - especially the "top hall" up the small staircase. My stepdad was a caretaker there for a few years but didn't feel anything - but then again he's not one to do so!!

I just wondered if anyone had any thoughts on the above or any information on the hall's history, either from documents or simply from personal experience.

Thanks in advance  :)

Pauline

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Re: Wesley Halls
« Reply #1 on: August 05, 2009, 04:43:50 AM »
Hi all,

My name's Chris and I grew up in Rangefield Road, living there between 1987 and 2005 when I moved to the south coast.

I spent a lot of my childhood at Wesley Halls, various youth clubs and groups I was involved in, plus working with people with learning difficulties there towards the end of my years in Downham.

As such, I am intrigued by the place. I heard from people at the time that Wesley Halls had an air raid shelter and was in fact used as a mortuary during the second world war. Rumour had it that the shelter is still there - albeit sealed now.

Also, in terms of the mortuary aspect, does anybody have any other information? I understand that Sandhurst Road School was bombed in 43 in which tragically 33 school children and a teacher were killed. There is a memorial carved stone on the external walls of the hall top hall, but I don't remember the names on those stones.

The halls do have a spooky feel to them - especially the "top hall" up the small staircase. My stepdad was a caretaker there for a few years but didn't feel anything - but then again he's not one to do so!!

I just wondered if anyone had any thoughts on the above or any information on the hall's history, either from documents or simply from personal experience.

Thanks in advance  :)

Hi Chris - good to hear from you.
I don't think I know Wesley halls - do I?  Should I?
Where are they?
Born 1944 in Geraint Road.  Launcelot and Churchdown Schools.  Moved to Western Australia in 1988.
Two children, 6 grandchildren, 3 dogs, hundreds of snakes, spiders and lizards.

chrism

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Re: Wesley Halls
« Reply #2 on: August 05, 2009, 08:37:33 AM »
Morning Pauline,

I guess it depends where abouts in Downham you're from! Its in south downham, near St Barnabas church, I think it's now called Downham Community Centre, on the corner of shroffold road and downham way.

Chris

Brenda

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Re: Wesley Halls
« Reply #3 on: August 05, 2009, 10:27:49 AM »
I didn't know Wesley Halls either.

Anyway, hallo Chris.  I recently found an interesting website about the bombing of the school (my mother always told about how she saw that plane come over so low she saw the pilot's face - a fact confirmed by others) but haven't been able to find it again.  I'm not sure if it listed all the names but it did mention Biddle twins. Now, that was of particular interest to me because my grandmother was a Biddle and since being on the genealogical trail, I found there were quite a few Biddle relatives in the Catford area. Whether or not, these poor children were distant relatives, I have no idea.

You could try the BBC website which has a lot of war stories. Should I be able to find the site of which I speak, I will post it here.

Bren

Brenda

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Re: Wesley Halls
« Reply #4 on: August 05, 2009, 10:30:54 AM »
Oh, I think a penny might be dropping.  Is Wesley Hall the biggish building which used to be used as a Methodist church?   It was on the right if you looked down from St Barnabas.  I'm sure I went to a church service there many, many years ago.

Bren

chrism

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Re: Wesley Halls
« Reply #5 on: August 05, 2009, 01:41:06 PM »
Hi Brenda,

Thanks for your reply. It is indeed that methodist church - although it's mainly used for various clubs now. It was built in the 30s in the shape of a cross and alcohol is not allowed to be consumed inside as it's methodist roots, while currently unused, are still valued.

Interesting thoughts about the Biddle twins and the fact they could see the pilot's face - I was often curious about wartime downham. My next door neighbour said shelters were built into the greens at the bottom of Downham way by the junction with Bromley Road, but very little information is available online about it.

A friend of mine once said they cut the very tops of the trees off to stop planes from hitting them but I'm not sure whether he was being serious!! - I'd love to have seen it in a weird curious kind of way!!

For those who are still unsure, a little history of Wesley Halls is available here: http://www.downhamcomcentre.org.uk/about2.html

You may recognise the image at the top of the page!

Chris

Brenda

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Re: Wesley Halls
« Reply #6 on: August 05, 2009, 11:26:16 PM »
Hallo again,

There were, indeed, shelters at the bottom of Downham Way.  It was one of our childhood games to run up and down them or jump down from over the entrance.  Now, somewhere there is a photograph of them. Try Downhamoriginals. It may be on there.  Of course, they seemed huge when we were small and but don't look it in the photo.  I remember how sorry I felt when they were demolished and replaced with those nice greens.

I shall have a look at that website now.

Bren

Pauline

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Re: Wesley Halls
« Reply #7 on: August 06, 2009, 02:39:05 AM »
Oh, I think a penny might be dropping.  Is Wesley Hall the biggish building which used to be used as a Methodist church?   It was on the right if you looked down from St Barnabas.  I'm sure I went to a church service there many, many years ago.

Bren

Well no penny has dropped with me!  I remember we went to St Barnabas Church for school carol service.  I also remember going to a hall not to far from there for girl guides (that was after girls brigade at the hall along downham way (Grove Park end). So is that the place? 
Born 1944 in Geraint Road.  Launcelot and Churchdown Schools.  Moved to Western Australia in 1988.
Two children, 6 grandchildren, 3 dogs, hundreds of snakes, spiders and lizards.

Dickie eagle

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Re: Wesley Halls
« Reply #8 on: August 06, 2009, 09:27:40 AM »
Wesley Hall was at the bottom of Shroffold ( opposite of Glenbow ) They used to run the "Tuppeny Rush " on Saturday mornings with the then Black & White silent movies and lots of prompts from the audience  Dickie...........
Tristram Rd.,  M.N, RN. FAA. RFA,s  from 1941 to 1971  retired ex-MOD(Navy) , Moved to Downham in 1927 .! Travelled a bit With long spells ashore in USA, Malta, Southern India, Japan, NZ and OZ also attatched to Aus Navy ( HMAS Sydney)

Dickie eagle

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Re: Wesley Halls
« Reply #9 on: August 06, 2009, 09:26:39 PM »
Bren, the shelters you spoke of were at the old Tramways Change-over at the bottom of Downham Way. There is a photo of Keith Allen and his wife waiting for a Tram.                  dickie..........
Tristram Rd.,  M.N, RN. FAA. RFA,s  from 1941 to 1971  retired ex-MOD(Navy) , Moved to Downham in 1927 .! Travelled a bit With long spells ashore in USA, Malta, Southern India, Japan, NZ and OZ also attatched to Aus Navy ( HMAS Sydney)

Brenda

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Re: Wesley Halls
« Reply #10 on: August 06, 2009, 11:18:46 PM »
Hallo Dickie dear,

I didn't know Keith and wife were featured in those photos. I shall go and have another look.  Thanks for that.

Bren