The First Platt Memorial Hall (1922 – 2016)
In the summer of 1919, around the time an effigy of the Kaiser was being incinerated at Mount Cottage, others had been busy constructing a makeshift shrine nearby in Black Horse Meadow to those who had fallen in the war. Many communities across the country had already started the process of commemorating their war dead, and on 10 March 1920 Platt joined them, when a meeting was held at the Church Room in the old Platt School. From the outset, with emotions running high, the proposal of a war memorial courted a great deal of controversy. Prior to the meeting regular letters had appeared in the correspondence pages of the Kent Messenger regarding the funding and structure of the venture:
PLATT MEMORIAL TO THE FALLEN
28 February 1920
Sir, – With reference to the letter of your correspondent who states she is “voicing the grievance of many others in this matter” it would be interesting to know how much she and her comrades have contributed towards the fund. I believe I am right in stating that the chief donors fully approve the form of the memorial proposed and am still of opinion that those “who pay the piper have a right to call the tune.”
Perhaps, however, this is only another form of continuing to abuse an opponent whom they are afraid to fight openly!
Yours truly, LOOKER-ON
PLATT MEMORIAL TO THE FALLEN
6 March 1920
Sir, – In last week’s issue of the “Kent Messenger,” “Looker On” wishes to know how much a bereaved mother and her comrades have contributed to the memorial. I am only one person who would like “Looker On” to know what I have contributed, having worn khaki for nearly five years, and the greater part of the time in the mud of Flanders, which “Looker On” probably never dreamt of, let alone saw. Five years of my life have been wasted, my health has been ruined, and I have undergone hardships unthought of by “Looker On.” Do you not think that WE, the men who have done the job, should be allowed to have a voice in the form of memorial erected to our fallen comrades, or does “Looker On” think, because he stayed at home while the trouble lasted, and then gave a substantial donation to the fund, that that is the greatest form of self-sacrifice that one can give? What we want is a public memorial in a public place raised by public subscriptions, so that in years to come the rising generation can respect the memory of the gallant men of Platt who fell in the Great War.
Yours truly, COMMON SENSE
Sir, – Local parents who have lost their sons in the war and the war widows of the parish were invited to meet a committee of the regular attendants of the Parish Church and those interested in the Church to discuss the proposal to restore the roof of the church, as well as to inscribe the names of the fallen in letters of gold on carved oak panels at the east end of the church, as their War Memorial.
Attending this meeting I thought what a beautiful idea it was to give our dear boys such a grand tribute – to place their names in such a position, where their memory would be remembered while the church stands. A greater honour could not be given to a king; for where a few are gathered together, our Lord is in the midst.
Should we not appreciate what a consolation this ought to be; instead of showing, as the few parents present at the meeting did show, a hostility towards the Vicar and Church people – who are the first we fly to in times of stress, for help and sympathy?
Yours truly, E. Ingram,
Clay Gate, Platt, Borough Green
P.S. I hope the parents will realise the noble spirit of those who desire, with gratitude, to give the highest tribute possible, in memory of our boys. May they rest in peace!
On 3 April, three weeks after the initial gathering, an article penned by Ernest Terry, an ex-serviceman living at Platt Common, appeared in the newspaper:
Sir, – Can you allow me a little space for a few words on the Platt War memorial? A meeting was held in the Church Room on Wednesday evening, 10th March, which, although clearing the air to a certain extent, still leaves some feeling in the parish, which there ought not to be on the subject of a memorial to those who gave their lives, all that they could give, for their country. From information gathered at the meeting it seems that certain sums of money have been promised to the Vicar for a definite object, viz. a memorial inside the church or in the churchyard, and for the repairing of the roof of the church. I am certain that there are few, if any, who object to a memorial being placed either inside or out of the church, but it is felt strongly that repairing the church roof does not come within the scope of a memorial fund. The Vicar stated at the meeting that if certain sums of money were given for repairing the roof and the donors called these their contributions to the “Memorial,” he had no choice but to use them for that purpose. We do not find fault with that; everyone is entitled to give his money as he chooses, but it seems to me rather unfair to use the word “memorial” when it should be “restoration.” I was much surprised when the Vicar said he had no money for the purpose, only promises, as I had thought, after reading the letters written, that “Onlooker” had at least given a considerable sum. I would remind him that those who fell have paid fully, while those who went and have returned feel that they have paid something. Some were “looking on” during the war.
Sir Mark Collet, who lived at St Clere in Heaversham and was actively working on designs for a memorial in Kemsing, championed an imposing monument to be erected at the top of Wrotham Hill, however many locals wanted a village hall which they could use for recreational purposes. Another meeting was held on 29 April, and after consideration of several proposals, it was unanimously decided to proceed with designs for a new hall. On 9 November 1920 Percy Minter presided over another public meeting at which all the options were presented, with a design by architect W Kingsley McDermott F.R.I.B.A. being the eventual choice. McDermott was known locally before the war for designing a property called Stone Ridge, which still stands today off the Maidstone Road in Borough
Local silversmith and leading light in the Arts and Crafts and Art Deco movements, Henry George Murphy, designed the war memorial tablet which commemorated 45 names. Murphy was born in Birchington-on-Sea in 1884 and came to live in Platt during 1908, when he was working for the sculptor Henry Wilson, who had a studio in the village. Two years later Henry got engaged to local schoolteacher, Mary Church and they eventually married in 1914 at the Parish Church in Wrotham. The Murphys set up home in Platt, not far from Wilson’s studio, and Henry commuted to London to work at his studio. In 1915 he closed his workshop and enlisted in the Royal Naval Air Service, which would later become the RAF. At the time he became involved with the Memorial Hall, Henry had been unable to re-open his workshop due to high rents, and had returned to teaching. His skills were called into use again in 1923 when he designed another war memorial for the interior of St. Mary’s Platt Church.
The site was given over to the community by Jude Hanbury of Wateringbury and the building work contracted to Simmonds and Co. of Wrotham. Thomas Pascall, who ran the Platt Brickyard and whose son was killed in the war, provided the bricks for the building, and funding for the building was raised through public donations.
The Platt War Memorial Hall was eventually opened on 18 November 1922 with a report of the event published in the Sevenoaks Chronicle several days later:
PLATT WAR MEMORIAL | DEDICATION OF VILLAGE HALL AND UNVEILING OF TABLET
The ceremony of dedicating the Platt War Memorial, which takes the form of a handsome new Village Hall, was performed on Saturday afternoon by the Right Rev. the Lord Bishop of Rochester in the presence of a large gathering of relatives and friends of the men of St Mary’s Platt who laid down their lives in the Great War. A beautiful Tablet commemorating the dead was unveiled at the same time by Brigadier-General C. Wingfield-Stratford C.B., C.M.G., and the scene was one which made a deep impression on all who witnessed it.
The Guard of Honour was provided by twenty-seven members of the local branch of the British Legion under Sergt. Major H. J. Grimwood, who were drawn up in a single rank in the centre of the road and inspected by General Wingfield-Stratford accompanied by General Sir Lionel Stopford, K.C.B. The former stopped to exchange words with each man as he went along the line, and after the inspection ascended the steps to the Memorial Tablet, in front of which the clergy were already grouped, the Bishop being accompanied by The Rev. J. H. Bradbury Hon. C. F. (Borough Green) who officiated as his Chaplain, and the Rev. C. E. Elder (locum tenens of St Mary’s Platt). By a series of smart movements, the ex-Service men were turned about to face the Hall and allotted positions at regular intervals, with the Sergeant Major a pace in front and by his side two buglers from the Royal West Kent Depot, Maidstone. On one side was to be seen the large emblematic banner of the Court “Pride of Wrotham” No.7520 Ancient Order of Foresters and opposite stood the members of the War Memorial Executive Committee, consisting of Mr. P. Minter O.B.E. (Chairman), Mr. A. E. Collings, Mr. & Mrs. Pascall, Mr. W. Hall, Mr. P. Heron Maxwell, Miss Somerville, Mr. G. Bennett (Secretary) and Mr. L. Curtis (Treasurer). Behind these and continuing round to the opposite side in a great semi-circle congregated the general public, representative of all classes, and including many women in mourning, and as the impressive dedicatory service progressed not a few were visibly affected by the solemnity of the occasion and the poignant memories it revived. In the background the Union Jack fluttered at half-mast.
The ceremony opened with the hymn “All people that on earth do dwell”, the singing being led by a choir recruited from the Singing Centre of the Platt Women’s Institute, with cornet accompaniment be Messrs. R. Bangay, J. T. Bowles and E. Newman of the local British Legion band. The Rev. ELDER read an appropriate passage from Romans XII 9-18, and after the recital of the Lord’s Prayer the BISHOP offered four special supplications for God’s blessing “of this building and the uses to which it may be put”, and also “those who shall frequent it”.
The CHAIRMAN of the Executive Committee then mounted the steps and formally asked General Wingfield-Stratford to unveil the Memorial.
The General did so, the Union Jack with which it was covered falling away from the Tablet and the forty-five names of the fallen inscribed thereon were revealed for all eyes to see. Addressing the assembly General WINGFIELD-STRATFORD said it was a great honour for him to be invited to unveil the Memorial – the Tablet on this Memorial Hall which had been erected to the honour and in the memory of those brave men who went from this parish and laid down their lives for their King and Country. These Memorials were erected all over the land, in nearly every parish, in memory of the departed heroes, and it was well that there should be these Memorials, because if it had not been for the bravery of our sailors and soldiers we should have lost that freedom which every Englishman held so dear, for assuredly if we had lost the war we should have lost our freedom also. Referring to some notes which the Chairman of their Committee had given him, with reference to this building, he saw that various schemes had been discussed at public meetings, and in the end a large and enthusiastic majority decided in favour of a Memorial Village Hall, on the exterior of which should be inscribed, on the Tablet, the names of the men connected with this parish who fell in the War. The Hall was designed by Mr. Kingsley McDermott, F.R.I.B.A., and built by Messrs. Simmonds, Wrotham, while the Tablet was the work of Mr. H. Murphy of Platt. The site was given by Messrs. Jude, Hanbury & Co., of Wateringbury. A large number of parishioners of all classes including numerous working men and women had contributed to the fund, and the Women’s Institute had given financial help. About £800 had been obtained, and it was hoped to clear off the balance by means of entertainments. It would be used for a Men’s Club, Women’s Institute meetings and classes for educational, musical and social purposes. It was a handsome building and well designed for the purposes mentioned, and had been constructed on a commanding and appropriate site on a main road, where it would bring to mind to passers-by what the heroes of this little parish had done. Above the Tablet would be a light to illuminate the words “Lest we forget”. It would be a lasting memorial to those brave men whom they wished to honour and to be honoured by future generations. On the Tablet were inscribed the names of 45 men who had fallen for their country out of 200 who had joined up from this parish, which had a total population of 1200 – a very heavy toll indeed. To do honour to this ceremony the Lord Bishop of the Diocese had, out of his much-occupied time, come to dedicate the Memorial, their vicar being prevented by illness from attending. The Guard of Honour had been furnished by ex-Service men who had done their share in the Great War – members of the British Legion, which was formed to look after the interests of the relatives of disabled and those who were suffering from the effects of having done their duty.
He thought it would be well to dwell shortly on a few lessons which might be gathered from the example set to us by these heroes. Recently we were all stirred by Armistice Day and what took place thereon – the Memorial Services and the wonderful two minutes’ silence which brought back to us so many glorious and also so many sad memories. The lessons which had been set to us by our departed heroes were these – patriotism, devotion to duty, endurance and self-sacrifice. Patriotism was love of our country – it commenced on the mother’s knee with the love of the parents, it continued to the love of the home, of the parish, of the county and then of the country. It was a feeling which was encouraged in the Navy and Army where it was known as esprit-de-corps. Those who joined Regiments or ships were told to remember all the glorious deeds of their predecessors, and they were often prevented from doing something which would not be right by the knowledge that they should do nothing to tarnish the reputation of the unit to which they belong. It was a great power which brought all the men together, and in this connection he would like to quote the words our Saviour used, “Greater love hath no man than this, that he lay down his life for his friend”. That is what these brave men had done, and done for them, and they should take this lesson of patriotism home with them, love their country and parish and those around them, and try to make it a happier place.
Then there was devotion to duty. It was a very hard thing to many of those who joined up, especially civilians, to go through that hard training and strict discipline which was absolutely necessary in order to win the war. Many of them here today knew what it was – those training camps in all weathers, continuous work and the feeling that they could never answer back. They learnt how to obey an order, and it was exemplified perhaps more than in any other way – that solemn moment on the eve of a great attack, when the men were assembled in the trenches. At that time there was a most solemn silence – it was uncanny. All the artillery fire had lifted, and the men were waiting to go over the top. While they were there the deeds of a lifetime came before them. They were all determined to do their duty, and he thought that many of them, when they got the signal, said “God help me to do my duty”. His hearers would have occasions in their lifetimes where they would have their duty to do, and they should remember the example set them by their comrades who had fallen.
The third quality, endurance, was a marvellous thing, and seemed so characteristic of the English race. There was no greater example of this “sticking to it”, to use a familiar phrase, than in the salient at Ypres. For four years that was held, and was the means of preventing the Germans from getting to the Channel Ports. It was a wonderful case of endurance during that time, when it seemed as though the war were never going to end. He could remember getting the very confidential and secret order that they were to put their backs against the wall, but there was to be no despondency. And that great attack by the enemy gradually filtered out, the gaps were filled up, and then that wonderful counter-stroke of Marshal Foch took place and the victory was won. It was won by endurance and they might be proud of those men who stuck to it. They had their lesson from this, to stick to it if it was hard and it would come right in the end.
He need say very little about self-sacrifice, but he could assure them the instances he saw of sacrifice by the men were wonderful. The strong man helped the weak – often a man had been almost overcome with his nerves at a critical time, and a strong man had helped him. There were cases in which men had to be restrained from going over the top and losing their lives in the effort to save somebody else. We, too, could practise self- sacrifice every day of our lives, and do it remembering the self-sacrifice of the men who had made the supreme sacrifice.
Though they took a pride in what the men had done for us there was another side of the picture. There was the sorrow when a young life was cut away in its prime, full of promise. They felt sympathy with the relatives who suffered – they must all agree that the women of England in this war were wonderful, and he was sure they would all feel deeply for them. He had heard, though he had never read it himself, that in some of the leading papers recently there had been reports of schools in some big towns where young people were taught that there was no God, that death simply meant the earth being wiped out, and there was nothing more. Thank God we were a Christian nation and had that sure hope of the Resurrection. He would remind the relatives of the fallen of those beautiful words of Newman, “In the morn those angel faces smile, which I have loved long since and lost awhile”. We must not forget that we owed our victory to God, and the following words which he took out of that old Book, the Bible, were very appropriate to this occasion. They came from the song of triumph of Deborah and Barak, after their marvellous victory. “Praise ye the Lord for the avenging of Israel – when the people willingly offered themselves”.
Immediately after the General had finished speaking, the “Last Post” rang out from the bugles, and then followed two minutes’ impressive silence, broken only by the rushing of an up train, which served to accentuate the dead stillness when it had died away in the distance. After what must have been an eternity of waiting to some the “Reveille” was blown, and up went the Union Jack to full mast as the Bishop turned, and in measured tones said – In the faith of Jesus Christ we dedicate this Memorial to the glory of God in gratitude to those who laid down their lives: in the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Amen.
The dedication was followed by several prayers, the last one, “That we may be worthy of those who have given their lives for their King and Country”. The hymn. “O God, our help in ages past”, was sung, – the Bishop pronounced the Blessing, the first verse of the National Anthem rolled out, and the service was over.
This was the signal for the placing of a large number beautiful floral tributes at the foot of the Tablet, and the top step rapidly became a mass of colour. The way was led by Private W. Chapman, D.C.M. (with bar) and Croix de Guerre, who, on behalf of his comrades of the British Legion, deposited a wreath of Flanders Poppies, inscribed “We will not break faith with ye who died”. Other wreaths were:- “In grateful memory of our gallant lads, from the people of St. Mary’s Platt, and its hamlets”; with the first verse of “O valiant hearts” (red and white flowers); “In remembrance from the members of the Platt Women’s Institute” (leaves and berries); “From the Officers and members of Court ‘Pride of Wrotham’, No. 7520, A.O.F., in remembrance” (laurel and berries); “From the little children of Platt School, in loving memory of the soldiers” (yellow and red chrysanthemums and laurel leaves); From Platt Cricket and Football Clubs; and relatives of the fallen.
The Hall faces the main Sevenoaks – Maidstone road, and is built of bricks manufactured at Platt. It is lighted with gas, has two doors on either side, and is 60 feet long by 30 feet wide. It will be roofed by local tiles as soon as the money is forthcoming, but although the Hall is not yet quite completed, an annexe remaining to be built, no difficulty is anticipated in raising the balance of £400 towards the total cost, which amounts to £1200.
At each side of the bronze Tablet are two semi-circular seats, and about the Roll of Honour are inscribed the words:- “St Mary’s Platt, 1914-1918”, while following the names is the inscription; “These laid down their lives in youth that we might live to age in freedom”.
The following are the names on the Memorial Tablet:- Richard Andrews, Joseph Baldwin, Reginald Bowen, Sidney Bridgeland, John Bowen, Alfred Bathurst, Jesse Bush, Charles Eldridge, James Ellis, Harry Gilbert, Louis Hayes, Sidney Hollands, Frederick Ingram, William Merritt, William Neaves, George Parris, Thomas Pascall, Peter Piper, William Rogers, James Ryadean, Arthur Sparks, Reginald Thorndycraft, James Bance, Herbert Ashdown, Thomas Bance, John Barnes, Edwin Best, Harry Bradford, George Broad, Albert Croucher, Edward Ellis, William Evans, Percy Grace, Walter Hoblyn, Walter Humphrey, George Lacey, William Mount, Edward Newman, Leonard Parris, Joel Piper, Bertram Reaves, Ernest Rose, Stephen Sears, Thomas Terry, Edward West.
After the ceremony refreshments were served in Mr. G. Bennett’s store room under the supervision of Mrs. Bennett, Mrs. Pascall and Mrs. Winter. The police arrangements were admirably carried out by Supt. Wratten, K.C.C., assisted by Sgt. Murkett, and P.C’s. Waterman, Pearce and Gilbert.
A meeting was held in the new Hall on Wednesday evening, when the building was formally handed over to the Parish.
The following is an extract from a letter received on Saturday from the Rev. John Brand, Vicar of Platt, by the Memorial Hall Committee:-
“I thank for your kind invitation to me to take part in the service of dedication of the Village Hall today, and I welcome it as an expression of your feeling that your first thought should be that our Churches should thank God for the lives given and laid down for us, for our villages and our homes.
I congratulate you on the consummation of our wishes to build this Hall, because when you and I have long been forgotten, the building will stand as it were side by side with the Parish room, each with its great responsibilities and high purpose reaching forward continually to their larger fulfilment – this to raise and ennoble the social life and brighten the homes of the people, the other to carry on and intensify the life of the Parish and to be the handmaid of the Church by the side of which it stands.
I shall never forget, and I am sure that you will never forget, the Memorial services for the men, one by one as they fell. Those solemn services, held in God’s house, standing in God’s acre where Platt mourners have laid their dead in the years that have past, seemed to bring home and near to us and your buried dead the men whose bodies lay on the battlements of France and Belgium, of the East and faraway lands. So, in order that we may keep them with us, may this Memorial which you have erected here be a help to the living along the path of life, as we hope the Memorial to be placed in the Church will keep in continual remembrance that higher life which is won only by the law of self-sacrifice.”
On 22 November the first meeting of the Hall Management took place at which a copy of the Charter was finalised. It read:
The erection of this Hall as a Memorial in honour of those belonging to St Mary’s Platt, who fought and fell in the War of 1914 – 1918, was unanimously decided upon at a Public Meeting held on April 29th 1920, at the Church Room, Platt, after consideration of various alternative proposals.
The Hall was erected in the year 1922 by public subscription on a site given by Messrs Jude Hanbury & Co. Ltd. Of Wateringbury, and vested in three Trustees on the conditions set out in a deed dated 1921.
It was opened, and the Memorial Tablet on its North front was unveiled on November 18th 1922 by Brigadier General C.Wingfield- Stratford C.B., C.M.G. the Dedication Service being conducted by the Right Reverend J.R.Harmer D.D. Lord Bishop of Rochester.
At a Public Meeting of the inhabitants of St Mary’s Platt held in the Memorial Hall on Nov. 22nd 1922, it was resolved as follows:-
- That the Hall is intended to be used for all reasonable and desirable purposes, including its use as a Reading and recreation room, and for Clubs, Institutes, Guilds, religious, political and other meetings, lectures, classes, musical, cinematographic and other entertainments, dramatic performances, shows, bazaars or other sales of work, wedding or other receptions, social gatherings, and such like.
- That until the overdraft referred to below is fully cleared off, the finances of the Hall shall be controlled by a Finance Committee of the three Trustees, viz:
Mr George Bennett.
Mr Louis Curtis.
Mr William Bance.
together with the following members who have undertaken to join in guaranteeing an overdraft up to £400-0-0 at the National Provincial and Union bank of England, Maidstone Branch, viz:
Mr P.Heron Maxwell.
Mr Percy Minter.
Mrs Francis Heron Maxwell.
- That a Managing Committee to carry the foregoing intentions into effect shall be elected annually by the adult inhabitants of the Parish of St Mary’s Platt, and of the detached portion of the Parish of Leybourne adjoining Platt Parish
- That so long as the Finance Committee (referred to in Clause 2.) continues to exist, its members shall be ex officio members of the Managing Committee.
- The Managing Committee shall have power to appoint sub-committees, either out of their own members or otherwise, and to delegate to such sub-committees any matters the Main Committee may see fit; also subject to clause 8 below, to appoint and pay such Officers as they may deem necessary.
- That the Managing Committee shall have power to grant, or refuse, any application for the use of the Hall, at their discretion, and to fix such conditions as they may consider necessary.
- That, subject to clause 8. below, the Managing Committee shall have power to fix the amount to be charged to all applicants for the use of the Hall or any part of its precincts, and shall, through their Officers, collect all such charges, and pay all necessary outgoings, keeping full account of income and expenditure, and reporting the financial position annually to the Electors at a Public Meeting or otherwise.
- That before putting into execution any schedule of rates for letting the Hall, or any other decision affecting income or expenditure, or any proposal to borrow money for purposes connected with the equipment, upkeep or utilisation of the Hall, the Managing Committee shall submit such schedule, decision, or proposal to the Finance Committee so long as the latter Committee continues to exist, and obtain their approval of same.
- That none of the foregoing Regulations shall be altered except by a majority vote at a Public Meeting of the Electors called either by the Managing Committee or by any 25 qualified Electors as referred to in Regulation (3) above, of which Meeting due notice shall have been posted on the Notice Board at the Memorial Hall not less than 14 days before the date of such Meeting.
Chairman of the Public Meeting, held on 22nd November 1922.
The Kent Messenger reported on the meeting:
A meeting was held at the new memorial hall on Wednesday evening, when Mr Percy Minter O.B.E. was in the chair.
Mr. L Curtis (Hon Treasurer) stated that the total cost of the building would amount to £1,200, of which about £800 had been subscribed.
The Chairman, outlining the history of the hall, observed that the Committee were handing over to the parishioners a substantial building well worth the money spent upon it. Mr. Minter moved the adoption of a scheme for the management of the hall.
Mr. A. E. Collings (a member of the committee), in seconding, remarked that some criticism had been leveled against the hall by reason of the fact it was part of a war memorial, but he found many war memorials consisted of something more or less connected with the ordinary activities of life. He believed that time would show that the memorial was a proper and right one.
After amendment the regulations were unanimously approved. Mrs. Heron Maxwell, O.B.E., in proposing a vote of thanks to the Chairman, trusted the hall would prove of great use to the people of Platt, and that it would help to further the activities of peace just as it commemorated the sacrifice of war. Mr A. Collings seconding, said he preferred the war memorial scheme, which Platt had adopted in preference to the setting up of a stone or cross, which were of very little value to the descendants of the men who had fallen. The motion was carried.
Although the hall was now open, it was not yet complete. Nora Collings later wrote:
The roof was covered with roofing felt; the solid floor was covered with planks of wood. The tables were of similar shape and size so that they could be roped together to form the stage. There were only two toilets, a gas ring, a cold water tap and a small sink. The interior was heated by two large enclosed coke stoves, which nearly always worked badly. There was no cloakroom. I think the WI gave the first curtains and also paid for a second-hand piano.
Various events were organised to raise funds:
In spite of weekly whist drives, jumble sales, donations and dances etc. the Hall needed more money to pay for the completion of the building. At one stage the members of the Executive Committee stood as guarantors for the Bank loan to the tune of £50 each (a quite considerable sum in those days.) At another public meeting called to suggest ways of getting rid of the debt of money (£100) needed, one man living in Platt who had just received £5 from War pay. Got up and said to the Committee on the stage ‘I will give the first £5 of my war pay if 19 other people will promise £5 donation each. In less than 5 minutes, the £100 was obtained admirably.
In order to improve the stage, a covering of felt from the Basted Mill was obtained and a large Turkey (Turkish) Carpet was put on top of the felt after the tables had been roped together for security. Little by little, more and more amenities were added to the Memorial Hall. It soon became necessary to put a tile roof on the Hall. It was agreed to ask Mr Pascall if he could supply the Wrotham Tiles. He agreed and the roof was permanently finished.
On 3 February 1933 the Sevenoaks Chronicle published an account of the Memorial Hall AGM in which the new roof was mentioned:
The Annual Meeting of the Memorial Hall was held on Wednesday evening with Mr. G. Holness in the chair. Mr. Minter explained the new trust deed which vests the premises in the Trustee of Charity Lands in perpetuity. Mr. W. Bance, Mr. G. Bennett and Mr. L Curtis, who have been trustees since the erection of the hall in 1922, are now relieved. Under the new rules, one third of the committee retires annually, those retiring this year being Messrs. Bacon, McPhee, Ratcliffe and ray. The new members elected at the meeting were Messrs. Ashdown, Bacon and Pearson. The annual accounts which had been audited by Mr. Keane, were presented by the hon. Treasurer, Mr. L. Curtis, and passed. The receipts for 1932 were £104 13s. 5d. and the expenses £91 8s. 3d. In addition to this a sum of £31 9s. 10d. had been subscribed towards the fund for the new roof, the total cost of which was £171 10s. When the hall was built it was covered with a temporary roof of felt. At the end of last year this was enclosed by a new roof of dark red sand-faced local tiles, thus completing the original designs of the Platt War Memorial Committee made in 1922. The committee are now faced with a debt of £140 and Mr. Pascall, who supplied the new tiles has agreed that payments shall be spread over a period of five years. It was reported at the meeting that Mrs. Heron Maxwell had arranged to hold a fete at Great Comp in the summer in aid of the fund. Miss Sommerville promised a donation of £5 if £50 could be raised before next August. Votes of thanks were passed to all those who had assisted the hall during the past years. At the close of the meeting Captain C. A. C. Turner described the steps which are being taken in Platt to assist the unemployed.
During World War Two the hall was in constant use for both social, official and fundraising purposes, the last of which invariably involved raising money for the war effort such as the Spitfire Fund. One of the more unusual of these was an exhibition in 1942 of paintings by the respected landscape and portrait artist Murial H. Hope, that was held in aid of the Russian Red Cross. In addition to local dignitaries, the exhibition attracted the attentions of gentry from far beyond the parish, and featured a portrait of Christina Gordon Brown, who lived at Oak Beams in Platt, and was the sister of Hugh who was fighting in North Africa. The exhibition raised a sum of £30 5s. (almost £900) and a cheque was swiftly dispatched to the beneficiaries.
After the war, two additional memorial plaques were commissioned to compliment those designed by H.G. Murphy, and commemorated the names of both military and civilian casualties from the parish between 1939 and 1945.
Over the years the Memorial Hall became an important cornerstone of village life as well as providing a constant reminder of the sacrifices made by members of the community so that others could enjoy the peace and freedom our country provides.
However, time took its toll and after more than 80 years of continuous use the building itself was showing signs of serious deterioration, and the Trustees reached the difficult decision that the hall would have to be replaced. This marked the start of a fifteen-year journey that reached its conclusion in July 2016 when a new Platt War Memorial Hall was opened near the existing structure, and the original war memorial relocated brick-by-brick and incorporated into the front face of the building. This new structure was officially opened, and the war memorial rededicated, on 3 September 2016. A report of the event can be read on the new hall website.
At 11:52 a.m. on 28 September 2016, 94 years after it was built, the life of the old Memorial Hall came to an end when the last remaining section of the building was pulled down by the demolition company. Photographs of the demolition can be viewed here.