16 February 2007
[History of Canada Hall]
LOSE 'WAR MEMORIAL'?
Canada Hall Development
The All Saints� project development group
has been looking at the option of developing Canada Hall, adjacent
to the church, and have unanimously agreed that the best way forward
would be to demolish the Hall and build anew. In the light of this
they are in the process of appointing an architect to progress the
design with a view to rebuilding the hall to cater for the expanding
need of the church and the community, and hope to have obtained
planning consent by the autumn.
Members of the group will be visiting local community centres to
seek good examples of such buildings, and would welcome suggestions
of other worthwhile projects to visit. -
Have Your Say! - Email
Comments will be published
Plan to raise
�600k for new Canada Hall
A major fundraising campaign has been launched to raise
�600,00 over the next three years to build a new community
The new hall would replace Canada Hall, built in 1943
during the Second World War by Canadian soldiers. Last
week, permission was granted by
Banstead Council for the demolition of the existing hall and for
the construction of a new building.
Plans for the new hall have been designed by architect
Colin Dixie, of
Devon Road, South
Although many people have been dismayed at plan to pull
down the old hall, members at All Saints� Church, to which the
building is linked, argued that new facilities were needed to
cater for present and future needs in Merstham. The church
insisted that the old hall had become �extremely expensive� to
run and felt that a major investment would have been required to
bring it up to modern standards and to �make it viable for a
further 20 years or more�. The Rev
Marion Randall and fellow church leaders believe that the only
option is to raze the old hall and start again to provide a
state-of-the-art centre for the community. Many clubs in
Merstham use the existing hall, which was built at speed by the
Canadian Royal Engineers from materials they were able to get
hold of following the bombing of the 1897 church by German
On that day, a parachute mine landed close to the church
and exploded, killing five residents in the locality and leaving
All Saints� Church in ruins. Thanks to the Canadian priest, the
Rev Hedley Wolfendale, based nearby with this Canadian regiment,
and Christian generosity within the parish, a temporary church
was rapidly built. That �temporary� church is the Canada Hall
seen today alongside
All Saints� Church � the one that stands today � was
completed in April 1950, by which time 70 weddings had taken
place in the �temporary church�. Over
the years, scores of village clubs and groups have used Canada
Hall. Many older people had been distressed by news of its
possible demise, as they feared its unique character and history
would be lost. But the new building would include certain
features with a Canadian influence, said Derek Hammersley,
chairman of the New Canada Hall Committee. Mr. Hammersley said
that the new hall would be not quite so large as the ignition
Surrey Mirror Thursday 8th February 2007
For further plans
Merstham Surrey RH1 3LH
Application Reference: 06/01616/F
||Demolition of existing village hall and erection of new community centre. (Drwg No. 3348/A30 to A34, A35/A, A36, A37)
The PCC All Saints Church Battlebridge Lane South Merstham Surrey
||Colin Dixie Architect
2 Devon Road South Merstham Surrey RH1 3EU
||Head of Building & Development Services
||Contact the Helpline on 01737 276000
Dear fellow residents,
I have read with interest those e-mails that would rather have Canada Hall preserved as a monument to those who so selflessly built it, as a church, for our community after the destruction of All Saints during the 1939-1945 War.
Perhaps, if we are fortunate enough to succeed with plans and fund raising for a new development, now so badly needed for the growing number of children who need a place to meet together but separately in groups every Sunday that is larger than the existing Canada Hall, we should make a permanent memorial within the new building
So that we will always be able to honour those Canadians to whom we owe so much for building the original Hall.
A scale model of the original, photographs, dedications, etc........all to their memory would, I think, be very appropriate.
While preserving the original building would be a dream it is not a cost effective or practical solution. The existing building is in desperate need of renewal to conform with all the modern building requirements and regulations as well as the growing number of users, both young and old who would benefit so much by a new building which can be labelled as both church and community. For what is a community without a church and a church hall .........the Canadians knew the answer to that!
New Canada Hall to be Built after 62 years
Plans have been unveiled by All Saints Church, South Merstham, for a new Canada Hall, replacing the existing building which has stood for 62 years.
The present building was originally built in five weeks, by Canadian serviceman stationed in the area, as a temporary replacement church following the bombing of the original Victorian church during the Second World War.
The proposed new building to be named New Canada Hall in recognition of the men who built the one it will replace, is expected to cost in the region of �750,000 and will provide greatly improved facilities for meetings and activities so as to better serve the needs of the local community.
The single-storey building will incorporate a two-way reception area leading both to the new premises and to the existing church, two halls, two meeting rooms, an office, a sizeable kitchen, some much needed storage space and generous toilet facilities.
In outward appearances it will reflect some architectural features of the original structure.
The decision to rebuild was made after estimates to modernise the existing building proved too expensive.
Four architects were approached to draw up a scheme, and after due consideration, local architect Colin Dixie was chosen to develop the proposal.
Commenting on the decision to build a new Canada Hall, the vicar of All Saints, the Reverend Marian Randall, said, �The project represents a huge opportunity to create a quality community facility in South Merstham while remaining true to the spirit and memory of the old Canada Hall.�
A Message From The
Canada Hall Project Development Group
Firstly I would like to
say what an excellent web site this is, it covers all aspects of
Merstham like with lots of useful local information, I particularly
like the past and present section and the information on local
I was very interested to read about Canada hall on your site. I am
churchwarden at All Saints and am on the development group which is
currently looking at the future of Canada Hall. I believe that some
of the information regarding the hall may now need updating and am
particularly concerned over some some the comments that you have
received on the replacement of the hall.
Any proposal to replace the hall has not been taken lightly and we
are fully aware of the fondness held locally for the existing hall
and its local historical significance.
The development group would welcome the opportunity to help update
the information on the latest proposals for the hall and to explain
our reasons for considering its replacement.
For the Canada Hall Project Development Group
I have just read the emails supporting the case for
retaining the Hall. I lived in Merstham before,
during and after the War, and
although attached to St.Katharine's
I know how much the Hall has meant to the
residents of South Merstham over the years. All of us
in the village during the War have fond memories of
the Canadian forces in our midst, in my case the
Toronto Scottish encamped at Hoath Farm. Indeed they
were a part of our everyday lives.
I suspect that some of the folk
from the village who emigrated to Canada
after the War were motivated by those memories.
Your correspondents are quite right - Canada Hall is a part
of the history of the village.
The Canadians and their families with links with Merstham
are to be applauded for wanting the Hall to be retained.
A message from
I applaud those who have written
in support of keeping Canada Hall. My father, now deceased,
was one of the Canadian Engineers who helped to give South
Merstham back their church. His name was Leonard Thomas
Mitchell. I know how proud he
felt to be part of such a wonderful undertaking. He spoke
very little of the war to me. But this - it gave him such
satisfaction to know that during this time of world wide
pain and suffering, he was given the chance to help the
people in a small community in England.
I found out about his work only
because a 12 year old girl by the name of Sarah Fletcher
from your town wrote to my father in January of 1986. She
was doing a community project at school on Canada Hall
and was given his name from a Mary Basset. I know that
letter helped him to realize what an impact his work had had
so many years before.
I have letters from Jack and
Mary Basset to my father, I have clippings of events held at
the hall... the baptisms, the 68 marriages performed there
(one was Jack and Mary's', in 1945). And I know Jack was
the church warden for a time.
I have the celebration booklet
that was printed for the glorious occasion, "GOLDEN JUBILEE
of CANADA HALL" dated Sunday, 25th April 1993.
In another, the Crossways, April 1993 edition, is a letter
by a Denis Hughes...
"and there was a lot of damage
from the blast throughout the village. Sadly too, many
people were killed. Yet out of that rubble the village
church was re-born..." Ending his letter "Happy birthday -
Canada Hall - many, many, many happy returns. We praise
God for all that your building has meant to the church
community and the village."
Please don't ever forget why
the church came to be... don't let your children forget...
Canada Hall is not just a
building. It is your HISTORY.
Build anew if need be, but is there not a way you can find
it in your hearts to save CANADA HALL as a historical site?
If I can be of any help to anyone there, please feel
free to contact me,
I think it would be sad to lose
Canada Hall because its apart of Merstham history.
Although I feel that it is a place
that should be more open to the community
and not just one church. I have memories of becoming a girl
guide and making my promises to going too fates at Canada
Hall, maybe it would be a good idea to ask the people of
Merstham what they wish to see in its place whether it be
Canada Hall or a community centre or a modern
building I think it would personally be a shame to
It is shameful that once again plans are afoot to destroy yet
another small part of our history. Living in a bungalow in
Melton road at the time when the mine exploded outside the
church, I am all too well aware of the
reasons for the building of what became known as Canada Hall.
The Canadian troops who were responsible for its construction
built it to show the goodwill which existed between themselves
and the local community and this was one thing that they could
do to help at a time of considerable distress for local
I do hope some intelligent rethinking by the people who want to
replace a building which has served the community so well over
the years takes place and that a building that acts in many ways
as a memorial to the Canadian forces that gave their lives in
the war can be spared.
I�m not as old as the previous respondent to this news but I am
also outraged that this fine building is about to be torn down.
I�m all for progress but surly there is a place for history too.
I grew up in Merstham, whilst not living there now I still feel
that this hall is part of the community as a whole. I have many
good memories of the building it is part of Merstham. Like the
gentleman before I believe it a building of some importance and
should not be consigned to the wrecking ball of history. As a
youngster there we were taught to take pride in it and it
spurred on my desire to learn some history at school. Please re
consider what you are about to do
I together with my contemporary school mates were there when the
Canadian Soldiers built the hall, it has served South Merstham
well over the years.
What an insult to those brave Canadians who built the hall, many
of whom lost their lives fighting for this country to simply
pull Canada Hall down, without any sort of feelings for those
men. Canada Hall should be declared a national monument for what
I know that many of us former Merstham residents who lived there
during WW2 have moved away, but to us that hall means more than
just a church hall, why not pull the Vicarage down and replace
it with a house off site then there would be room for a
replacement church hall.
Yours, Mr Shaun Hagerty.
CANADA HALL ARCHIVE
Today, Canada Hall is home to many, Brownies, Guides,
Rainbows, Rangers, W.I., Keep Fit, Nursery Classes and a variety of Church Groups to name
but a few. The amount needed to be raised is a substantial �100,000. Organisers are
intending to sell six-inch squares representing the floor of the hall for �40 each. They
need to sell 2,500 squares to raise the money needed for the campaign.
Many local companies have already made generous donations, including: Hepworth
Minerals and Chemicals; Binnie Black & Veatch; Lombard North Central; Nera; Gatwick
Zoo; La Barbe; Legal and General; Sound and Media. Donations have also been received from
local OAPs and an ex Guide-Ranger from Canada Hall completed the 1999 London
Marathon to raise sponsorship for the appeal.
The fund raising continues
and the month of August 1999 saw the hall floor beams, floor boards, and floor
Money for new curtains was
donated and the hall now has a very bright and cheerful look at the windows.
Some members of the committee have been busy and the hall has been re-painted.
It is hoped that donations
will be forthcoming in order that material can be purchased to replace the stage
curtains. It is also hoped to start work on the ladies toilet refurbishment
The Canada Hall Committee would welcome help from an interested architect to
help them look at the possibility of adding a kitchen and toilet block to the
back of the hall, as well as improving facilities for the elderly and the
The committee is obtaining
quotes for electric re-wiring and heating.
As always the committee is
pleased to receive any help with regard to fund raising projects, or hear of
companies or individuals who may be prepared to help.
The History of Canada Hall
1943: The first Sunday School at the new 'Church', now Canada Hall, built by
the Royal Canadian Engineers.
In mid 1940 a corps of the Royal Canadian
Engineers and the 9th Field Ambulance, Royal Canadian Army Medical Corps
(RCAMC) took over Merstham House, parts of Church Hill and was also billeted in nissen
huts at Pendell Camp, Warwick Wold.
By December of 1941 a total of nine bombs had fallen on
Merstham mainly in the Church Hill and Shepherds Hill areas.
Perhaps the most memorable event of the war, to the
residents of Merstham, happened on the evening of Saturday 19th April 1941.
During a raid that evening a German plane dropped two parachute mines over South Merstham.
One dropped harmlessly on Wells Nursery, but the other exploded on All Saints Green. The
explosion, heard for miles, had a devastating effect. All Saints Church was completely
destroyed, as was the vicarage and two nearby houses. A total of ten people died in the
blast that night. The 84-year-old vicar, who had been reading in his study, suffered
severe injuries. One of his two sisters was killed and the other, like the vicar himself,
was in hospital for several months.
As in many other communities all over Britain, Merstham
showed its British Bulldog spirit and life returned to some semblance of
normality fairly quickly. War conditions being what they were, applications by the All
Saints congregation to build a church hut where they might worship were at
first turned down by the authorities. The members of the church continued their services
in Battlebridge Hall, half a mile away. Serving with the RCAMC was Corporal George Hedley
Wolfendale, a priest of the Church of England who had enlisted at the outbreak of war. At
the time of the disaster, and the resulting injuries to the vicar, he took over and saw
that life and worship of the church continued.
Late in 1941 George Wolfendale was appointed to the
Canadian Chaplain Service in the honorary rank of captain. Thereafter he was attached to
various units, chiefly of the Royal Canadian Engineers, and through most of 1943 he was
with the 1st Canadian Corps Field Park Company RCE. He would never forget the
parishioners of South Merstham, and now his engineering connections enabled him to realise
the dream of giving them a new church.
The Chief engineer of the 1st
Corps, brigadier J L Melville, approved the rebuilding project, and in March 1943 the work
began under the watchful eye of Lieutenant Frederick Eaton. All the material used was
salvaged from the wreckage of the destroyed church and vicarage. In five weeks the
building was completed and on Easter Day 1943 the new church, was dedicated
for worship by the Bishop of Southwark. Worship continued there until the new All Saints
Church was completed on 19th April 1950, exactly seven years later.
The little church built by the Canadian sappers continues
to exist as Canada Hall, named in memory of its origins and as a reminder to the
fact that thousands of Canadian servicemen and women made their temporary homes in Surrey
during the war years.
Extract from 'An Historical Guide to Merstham'
by Kevin Austen