Reasons to celebrate Lopping Hall in Loughton

PUBLISHED: 09:57 11 February 2020

Lopping Hall, as seen from the High Road, has been an integral part of the community for more than 135 years

Lopping Hall, as seen from the High Road, has been an integral part of the community for more than 135 years

Archant

Why Lopping Hall in Loughton is making something of a comeback

Many of the societies and groups which regularly use the Lopping Hall in Loughton gathered there recently for a triple celebration. For over a century, the Lopping Hall has been at the centre of community life in Loughton and is now making something of a comeback, having been in poor condition for some years.

Lopping Hall was opened in 1884 to a design by local architect Edmond Egan, and is one of the most important public buildings in Loughton. It was paid for by the Corporation of London to compensate residents of the then village of Loughton for the loss of traditional rights to lop wood in Epping Forest - rights which were bought out when the management of the Forest was taken over by the Corporation in 1878.

Much of the initiative for the recent extensive renovation and modernisation is down to two remarkable people: the outgoing and the incoming chairman of the Lopping Hall directors. For the past eight years or so, Mike Walker has taken on the seemingly gigantic task of masterminding dramatic improvements to the interior of the building, bringing it up to modern standards.

As outgoing chairman, Mike was warmly thanked by Alan Martin, who took over the chair a few months ago. During his tenure at the helm, Mike initiated extensive modernisation of the Willingale Room, the Small Hall, all of the toilet facilities (including a disabled WC) and most recently, the kitchen and bar. Under Mike's guidance, the hall now has full disabled access to the upper levels via a lift from ground to first floors and a small stair lift up to the Willingale Room.

Mike's rigorous approach also included ensuring that the building has a modern fire safety system, that the stage lighting bars are safe, and that appropriate health and safety measures are fully in place. Alan thanked Mike sincerely for his tireless work, often involving long hours at the hall supervising the renovations and also making or restoring some of the furniture himself in his workshop.

At the gathering, Mike was presented with a commemorative plaque noting his extraordinary dedication and also a bottle of well-aged Scotch whisky. In his reply, Mike thanked everyone for their kind thoughts and reflected on the support he had from others. A further accolade to Mike's contribution was made by former director Ron Heath who reinforced the sentiment that Mike's input had been truly outstanding. And Diane Rhodes who runs and manages the Lopping Hall Gallery added her congratulations and presented Mike with another gift.

The celebrations continued with an invitation from Alan Martin to user groups and societies to welcome the prospect of the next phases of work at the hall and also to contribute to those plans alongside the upcoming launch of a new website for Lopping Hall. Director Jayna Jogia is coordinating the new website and hoped that groups would have an input.

Alan Martin noted that the next phases of work would be a major renovation of the main theatre and performance space as well as much needed upgrading of backstage areas and changing rooms. Alan had spent some weeks earlier this year personally redecorating the hall - with some help from Loughton Amateur Dramatic Society (LADS) - and the appearance of the hall has been significantly enhanced. Alan has also had a major hand in installing a state-of-the-art comprehensive CCTV system which has radically improved supervision and security.

But perhaps the celebration with the greatest long-term prospect was the coming together of the user societies and groups which help to make the Lopping Hall the truly community-based facility that it has been for so many years. Lopping Hall was established as a facility for the people of Loughton and is run as a charity with no commercial objectives. All of its resources are ploughed back into the building for the benefit of everyone locally.

Lopping Hall, 189 High Road, Loughton, IG10 4LF, 020 8508 1660, loppinghall.org.uk

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