Fifty years ago many changes were happening in Wickford. New public buildings were going up all round the town. Today they are easily recognised by their flat roofs and large windows. September saw the opening of both the Community Centre and the Library.
Wickford Community Centre Committee had been fund raising for years, holding jumble sales, fetes, dances, and even getting residents to ‘buy a brick’ towards the new building. At last their dreams had come true.
Over the years they have had very good times and more difficult periods.
Members of the committee decked the hall with golden ribbons, flags and balloons in the few hours that were available between club use.
On Saturday, the day started with demonstrations by the clubs that use the hall. Some of the junior fencers demonstrated the art of fencing under the watchful eye of Chas Read, the fencing master who started the club a year before the hall was built. They were the first club to use the hal,l and have been there ever since.
The Modern Ballroom Dance Club were the next to show off their steps, with Sequence, Latin American and Ballroom, danced to music DJed by Maureen King, who is the Committee Chairwoman and also belongs to the dance club.
The chess club were on the stage all morning, playing one match after another and answering visitors’ questions. They are looking for new members as numbers are declining.
The art club exhibited a wide range of their paintings and one member of the club was quietly demonstrating her work.
The keep fit class encouraged some of the visitors onto the floor as they did their gentle exercises to music.
Visiting group Kings Dance Studio came in to dance for us and demonstrated slow ballroom dances as well as some very energetic jive movements. Children joined in the with music and movement exercises.
As the morning came to a close the ladies took to the back room to butter the bread and make up sandwiches, and lay out the cakes and biscuits for the children’s party and for the adults.
At 2 O’clock, Tony Ball, Chairman of Basildon Council, came to cut the ribbon to start the festivities and both the Children’s Party and the Street party. The Children’s Party was well attended and the entertainer managed to get young and old alike joining in and having fun.
The Street Party was not too well attended, but it did allow older members of the Centre to reminisce about how things used to be, and admire the new floor in the main hall.
Sadly I had to leave after a cake and a cup of tea but the fun continued. In the evening Fabulous Flo held court in the small hall, entertaining everyone with her comedy routine. In the main hall was a Barn Dance and this proved very popular, with tickets all sold out long before the day.