The Main Hall/Recreation Hall was destroyed by fire yesterday (Saturday 22 November) The news of the destruction has come as a great shock to many people and yet it should not be a surprise as this has been on the cards for many years. It is no use speculating on the culprits but with the almost complete lack of security measures on the site it is a wonder that this kind of event has not happened before now. Of course there have been previous attempts and one such destroyed the stage in the hall.
At the beginning of this week we met with a couple of officers of DCC and were given information about the current situation with the building. We were reassured to an extent that the majority of the old buildings were to be retained, however, the Hall was not one of them. Following the meeting I sent emails to DCC, Cadw and the Princes Regeneration Trust expressing our concern about the planned demolition and suggesting they try to reverse the decision. It looks as if we are too late now as the majority of the Hall appears to be in ruins.
The Hall was historically very significant as it is where the majority of social and recreational activities for both staff and patients took place.
Patients enjoyed weekly dances, whist drives, bingo, cinema and sports activities such as badminton, table tennis, trampolining, PT, 5 a side football and indoor bowls as well as concerts, eisteddfodau and the Annual Ball. Local Drama groups, Concert parties and youth groups also regularly provided entertainment for the patients. It was also used extensively for Christmas activities, at one time being used for bringing together patients from male and female wards for their Christmas lunch and also for staff to have their Christmas Lunch. Visiting also took place there as did the Annual Children’s Christmas party. Staff also enjoyed social events, dances with bands such as Kenny Ball, Acker Bilk, Bob Miller, Johnny Howerd, Joe Loss and Syd Lawrence and many more providing the music and also concerts and other events such as nurses prize giving. Other major events were held there for organisations outside the hospital.
The architecture in the ceiling was also very impressive before it was covered over in the 1970’s. The wooden floor was often described as one of the best dance floors in the country as it had a springiness that aided good dancing.
A major effort is now needed to ensure that the rest of the building does not go the same way as the Hall. Pressure needs to be exerted on the powers that be to improve security on the site and to find a way of developing it as soon as possible.