Keith Murray on
the fate of an exceptional
village hail

This imposing building is an unexpected
site in one of the side streets of Esh
Winning. It was designed by local
architect J A Robson, built in 1923 and is
a late example of the Edwardian Baroque
style. The hail was built as a memorial to
the miners killed in the First World War
and was used as a meeting hall and
community centre for the village. It must
be one of the grandest village halls in the
north of England.
The principal materials are light red
engineering brick, laid in stretcher bond
with elaborate yellow terra-cotta
dressings. It is a symmetrical building
with two end bays and a centre bay
containing a segmental pediment and a
clock, while the end bays have open
pediments. The parapet has balustraded
terra-cotta panels. The roof is flat topped
and hipped with steeply pitched tiled
sides and is surmounted by a timber
lantern and cupola on the ridge.
In addition to the usual community
facilities, the building included
accommodation for a cinema, swimming
bath, billiard room and library. It was
financed by the miners themselves, who
contributed 3d per week to the
construction costs, and by the mine
owners, Richard Pease & Co. who put in
3,000 (approximately 30% of the
construction costs). The Pease family are
well known as the Quaker industrial and
railway pioneers from Darlington.
By the late 1920s, commercial
pressures forced the conversion of the
whole building to use as a cinema and
ballroom known as The Majestic. This
use continued until 1956 when the
ballroom was closed and part of the
building converted to a shirt factory.
In 1962 the whole building was closed
down but was revived in 1964 by
Fairworld Ltd which converted it into a
social club, bingo hall and discotheque.
In the 1970s this also closed and the
building has since been disused apart
from sporadic use for storage.
It is a classic case of a very high quality
building in the wrong location, given that
one could think of several appropriate
alternative uses.
Keith Murray is with
Disused for nearly a
quarter of a century but
for sporadic use for