Village Hall

The village hall was built in 1930, the ground being gifted by the Earl of Dalkeith, to whom the barony of Eckford belongs. Some help was given by the Carnegie Trustees but most of the money was raised by local subscription and by local effort. The WRI members played a large part, helping to run concerts, sales of work, whists and dances.

Originally, the hall was lit by paraffin lamps. For heating there was one coke stove, which worked very well within a radius of three or four feet. People within that radius basked within that warmth but everyone else was frozen to the marrow on a windy night. Were they hardier then?

By 1938, Calor Gas lighting was introduced but it was only in 1955 that electricity came to the district and by 1966 there was light and heat at the touch of a switch. In 1999, the hall is heated by three inadequate electric heaters so we still wrap up warmly to go to the Rural! In 1950 a new kitchen was added, leading directly off the main hall and the building now serves the community very adequately. The money for all these improvements has been raised by the people of the district. Run by a local committee, who keep the charges as low as possible to encourage social activity in the vicinity, the hall provides a much needed service and browsing through the receipt entries from 1930 brings that out very clearly. Some entries remain the same. The WRI meetings are held there and in 1966 the men’s indoor bowling club met twice a week. Throughout the war years many functions took place there in a combined effort to raise funds for the Red Cross, comforts for those serving overseas and other worthy causes. In 1966 whist and dominoes brought the people together of an evening and still do. The Roxburgh Company of Guides and Brownies made Eckford their centre until the majority of girls came from the Heiton area and that became a more convenient centre. From time to time badminton was played in the hall. Concerts with local talent used to provide such fun for the performers and packed the hall with an appreciative and critical audience. These seem to have stopped by 1966 but in the eighties the WRI had a drama group which used to put on a concert evening with their play and other musical performers. Those also have stopped because these days everybody seems to work and be involved in so many other things that it was impossible to find an evening when everybody was free. The 1966 report says that dances are also only memories and mentions the“ rhythmic beat of the melodeons and drums and the skirl of the dancers in eightsome reels or ‘Strip the Willow’ no longer resound in the darkness for the young people repair to the bigger towns for their entertainment, attracted by the visiting beat groups there, and Eckford lies quiet and peaceful.” That is not the case now. There are still occasional dances in the hall as well as private parties such as 21sts. And it is a long time since ‘beat groups’ visited Kelso!

Still another feature should be recorded in the life of the Village Hall. In 1948, the Eckford and District Horticultural Society was formed with a strong committee of enthusiastic local gardeners. Sometimes they had two shows during the year - in summer and at the ‘back-end’ - and it was a real joy on those occasions to see the hall ablaze with colour. There were sweet peas and roses, or chrysanthemums and Michaelmas daisies according to the season. There were fresh fruits and vegetables, appetising cakes and scones, jams and jellies in the Industrial section. The Society staged many successful shows but by 1963 many of the original enthusiasts had left the district and the fact had to be faced that there was not enough support to justify carrying it on. There are many happy memories nevertheless.

At the end of 1999 money was received from the Lottery fund to improve the hall.