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What is the Hall currently used for?





Caryford Hall Committee has embarked on an ambitious scheme to upgrade and extend the Hall. Phase 1 was completed and paid for in 2020. Construction on Phase 2 started in October 2023 (see photo above) and will last until May 2024. Fundraising for Phase 3 has only just started. 

Phase 2 is being funded from a range of sources including by grants from Castle Cary Town and Ansford Parish Councils, financed by additional borrowing which the councils have taken on, to be repaid from council tax. Below we provide some essential information on this stage of the scheme and why it is needed. 

  • What is the hall used for now?

  • Why does it need to be bigger?

  • How will the building be altered?

  • How will the extension be paid for?

  • How will we know if the investment was worth it?

What is the Hall currently used for?


Caryford is the town’s only large, purpose-built community meeting space with a large car park, level access throughout, disabled toilet and hearing loop for those hard of hearing. A large kitchen was installed in 2020, fully equipped for large event catering. 


The Hall is now extremely busy, providing a main hall space to hire at reasonable rates for a wide range of groups and local organisations, for activity sessions, private functions and some official events. During the year ending in September 2022, and including all weekends and public holidays, there were 716 bookings with the hall hired out for an average of 32 hours per week. 


Weekday hires currently include for various u3a activities, Yoga, Tai Chi, Art, Parents and Toddlers, Majorettes, Martial Arts, Indoor Bowls and Tennis, Fitness Circuit. Monthly bookings bring the Arts Society, Gardening Club, Ansford Parish Council and u3a lectures to the hall and Cinema in Caryford screens a feature film there ten times per year. 


At weekends there are bookings for private family functions such as children’s parties, weddings, anniversaries, and the hall is the venue for a county short mat bowls competition 6-8 times per year.


As well as a Christmas Craft Fair, the Hall Committee itself regularly organises music gigs and drama performances for local entertainment – these also raise funds to cover running expenses and for the Extension Appeal Fund.  


Town residents also use the Hall for official purposes. The NHS organises blood donation sessions there 3-4 times per year; it is a Polling Station during General and Local Elections; the Hall is booked for Planning Public Consultation meetings and Planning Inquiries are held in the hall. It is the designated Welfare and Rest Centre to be used in the event of a local emergency or disaster. 

Why are an extension and other improvements needed?

Though well maintained, by 2019 some of the Hall facilities (eg toilets, former kitchen) were showing signs of wear and tear and needed refurbishment and improvement. 


The original meeting room (the “Betty Churchouse” Room) was too small and unsuitably close to the Main Hall and was thus disturbed by noise when the hall was being used. It was unattractive to hirers and difficult to hire out.


With the town population increasing significantly due to six new housing estates being finished or planned (675 approx new dwellings permitted: 200 built so far), more hall accommodation is needed to meet the demand for hirings, particularly for small to medium sized meetings and activities not requiring the very large Main Hall space.


Because of insufficient capacity we cannot meet all the requests for hirings currently made to us, particularly for regular weekday activities and for smaller private meetings, and sometimes we have to decline requests for hiring. 


In 2019 the Committee therefore started a three phase building scheme to extend the hall and improve its accommodation and facilities. 

How will the building be altered?

Phase 1 was completed in January 2020 at a cost of £185,000 and is fully paid for. The former meeting room was converted into an improved, well equipped, modern kitchen. A new plant room, new boilers and a cleaner’s store were also added. 


Phase 2, the most significant stage of the project, will build an extension containing a new large meeting room onto the existing structure accessible both from a new corridor beside the hall entrance and also via a soundproofed lobby from the main hall so that both spaces can easily be used in combination.


A small meeting room will also be created and furnished for “board room” type events. This room can double up in future as an administrative office should this be required. New, larger female toilet facilities will also be provided, replacing the small, outdated existing ones.


Phase 2 can be brought fully into use before Phase 3 is started.               

Ground Floor Plan showing extension (on right, coloured)
Ground Floor Plan showing extension (on right, coloured)

With Phase 3 the male and disabled persons’ toilet facilities will be upgraded and the foyer enlarged and reconfigured to provide a more welcoming reception space and entrance combined with a new drinks/coffee bar. A new porch will reduce heat loss from the foyer when people enter or leave and provide an attractive focal entrance point on the front of the larger building. 

How will the Phase 2 extension be paid for?

Our budget for this phase of the scheme is £588,000 which total includes the construction costs, VAT, professional and other fees, furniture and equipment and a contingency to cover unforeseen additional costs. We have raised the funds to pay from various sources including the following:

  •  Grant from Somerset Council

  •  Grants from Castle Cary Town Council and from Ansford Parish Council 

  •  Payments under s.106 Planning Agreements with the Developers of new housing estates

  •  The National Lottery Communities Fund

  •  Bernard Sunley Foundation

  •  Garfield Weston Foundation

  •  Elmgrant Trust

  •  Battens Foundation

  •  Private Donations

  •  Central government grant (DEFRA)

  •  Fundraising at local community events 

How will we know if the investment was worth it?

We have already said that the current capacity of the Hall cannot meet the current and projected needs for hire space in our community. It is increasingly difficult and often not possible to accommodate new regular bookings during weekdays because of this demand. When extended the Hall will be far more versatile and able to offer:

  • A very large Main Hall, for large audience events or sports/leisure activities requiring a large, unrestricted space

  • A large Meeting Room, for smaller audience events or activities such as art/craft sessions or talks specifically requiring a quiet space

  • A small Meeting Room, for committee meetings (eg Parish Council) or private/confidential meetings. This room is also suitable for use as an admin office.

  • A venue in which the large Main Hall can be in used in combination with the Meeting Rooms (eg large events such as Craft Fairs, wedding receptions, conferences)


We expect to see the impact of extending the building in the level of hiring activity with more bookings and more simultaneous hirings within the Hall. In future, for example, the following activities could all take place at the same time during one evening, instead of on separate days:

  • A children’s martial arts session in the Main Hall

  • A u3a talk with slides for up to 60 people in the Large meeting room

  • A Parish Council meeting for up to 10 people in the Small meeting room

The additional hiring income earned from having more than one space to hire out will cover the extra expenses (heating, lighting, cleaning, repairs and renewals) which result from having a larger building.

South Elevation (extension on left)

Why are an extention and other improvements needed?
Anchor 4
How will the building be altered?
How will the Phase 2 extension be paid for?
Anchor 2
How will we know if the investment was worth it?
Anchor 1
East Elevation (extension on left)

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