The Hindmarsh Hall
Originally built as a granary about 250 years ago, the Hindmarsh Hall is one of the largest, most distinctive, and best-used village halls in rural Northumberland.
Thought to be the only survivor of three granaries at the south end of the village, it originally had 4 floors and traces of the blocked-up openings to these floors are visible on the east wall. In 1859 all but one of the floors were removed when the building was converted into a church by the IVth Duke of Northumberland.
At that time the first-floor lancet windows were inserted, the street frontage given an outer face of ashlar stone and the bell turret added. The church proper was on the first floor and had a raised dais at its east end where the present stage is, so there is no floor under the stage. The ground floor accommodated meeting rooms, a kitchen, toilets, etc.
The work was supervised by Anthony Salvin, who at the time was working on alterations to Alnwick Castle, and the internal detailing of the lancet windows in the hall resembles windows in the Guest Hall of the Castle. Few village halls can claim such distinguished architectural origins.
Use as a church lasted only until 1876 when the present church was built further north along Northumberland Street. It was then used for public meetings and entertainments for about 60 years, during which time it was sometimes referred to as “The Town Hall” and a Post Box was inserted into the street façade. The Hall was the venue of the public meeting in 1894 at which the Parish Council was set up in its present form.
By the mid-1930s the hall was becoming rather dilapidated and was bought from
Northumberland Estates by Leonard King Hindmarsh, who refurbished it and gave it to the inhabitants of Alnmouth to serve as a village hall in memory of his father Henry
Hindmarsh. It is likely that the fire-escape on the south wall, the stage, the dance-floor and the suspended ceiling of the upper hall were installed at this time. It was opened as the Hindmarsh Hall by the Duchess of Northumberland on 18th December 1937.
By the 1980s the Hall was again in need of significant restoration and updating, but it was not until 2003-4 that this programme was completed. Over this period the Trustees undertook repairs to the exterior stonework and the roof, installed a new kitchen and toilets, including a separate disabled toilet, and stairs were constructed to the previously unusable and inaccessible gallery, which was converted into an office. Disabled access to the hall was improved by a lift to the first floor and levelling/ramping throughout the ground floor and the pavement outside the main entrance. Improvements were made to the insulation of the roof and walls, including secondary glazing to the lancet windows, and a new gas-fired central heating system was installed.
In 2020/21, during the COVID-19 pandemic shutdown, the Trustees embarked on an extensive refurbishment of the upper hall. The floor was replaced and new lighting and heating installed. Removal of the stage area revealed the splendid east windows.