History

 

The Lymington Community Association was founded by a local group of residents encouraged by Mr Robert Herrington Hole who gathered together a few local individuals from local business and private individuals, called a meeting at his own home at which it was agreed that there should be an Association formed for the residents of Lymington and Pennington.

According to its Constitution, its key objective is to benefit the residents in and around Lymington and Pennington “without distinction of sex, sexual orientation, race or political, religious or other opinions”

The meeting also agreed that the priority was to find a building in which both cultural and other activities could be housed in one centre – at this time many activities were already being run in halls and rooms around the town – a committee was formed and the Association was officially formed on May 1946 with an annual subscription of 2/6 (2 shillings and 6 pence) and a target of £5.000 to be raised by March  1947 – The Old Malt House and the three-quarter acre site were purchased at a price of £1,500, with the help of the Ministry of Education providing a grant of £1,000 – The Centre was finally opened in November 1948.

The Centre developed rapidly and was soon running arts and crafts classes and exhibitions, lectures on wildlife and other subjects, pottery classes and a Cinema has existed since its inception.

Today it still strives to achieve its key objectives by working to bring together residents of all ages, voluntary and other organisations, and local authorities in a common effort to

  • Advance Education
  • Provide facilities for recreation

The Centre exists to serve both needs

The day to day running of the Centre is run by the Centre Manager and her team – supported by much valued volunteers – the affairs of the Association are managed by a board of Trustees.

Throughout its history the Association a Registered Charity (No 301880)  has, and continues today to depend entirely on its membership subscriptions, voluntary donations, our local councils and local businesses for its existence and future development without their support the Association could not survive.

The Community Centre has featured in the media on occasion, notably in 1960 with a visit from Southern Television, and in 1962 hosting the BBC Any Questions radio programme. Below is the transcript of the part of an article from Punch magazine from 1952 on Community Centres, which focused on the Lymington Community Centre of the day. The whole article can be viewed in PDF format further down the page to the left.

The Association we visited, a post-war development, is in a country town whose beautiful Georgian architecture suggests contentment rather than dynamic civic action—Lymington, in Hampshire. But the figure of twelve hundred members out of a population of eight thousand five hundred speaks for itself, and so does an affiliation list of fifty local bodies—cultural, religious, voluntary service, recreational and many others. This Association, which owes a great deal to the drive and imagination of its Chairman, Mr. Robert Hole, is also lucky in its Centre. A malt-house with a lovely 1750 face has been very skilfully converted to give a large common room, a fine hall for meetings, films and theatricals (a good stage and lighting), a modern kitchen, and a series of timbered attic rooms for classes. The whole place is bright, clean and gay. Except that at present you cannot learn Chinese or Free Ballooning, there seems no limit to the scope of the Association’s activities. One look at the teeming information boards in the hall persuades you that something like a gale has hit Lymington, a social gale, a cultural gale, and a gale charged with practical common-sense.

To take the social side first, there is a Youth Club for those between fifteen and twenty-five, with a full programme of games, expeditions, theatricals, and admirable foreign exchanges; and there is an Older Members’ Fellowship for the over-sixties, who meet for socials and travel-films and cards, and who cease, so some of them assured me, to be lonely. Inexpensive dances and parties take place frequently, but the most important thing is that the Centre is open each week-day from ten to ten, and any member can drop in for a snack and a talk. The cheerful volunteers who staff the kitchen (ninety volunteers help with the Centre) are kept hard at it.

Then—horrid but inescapable word—the cultural. Since Lyming­ton has a high proportion of the retired, classes start after lunch and most days go on into the evening. Some lecturers come from outside, others are local. For one week I counted over forty subjects. Here are a few: English Social History, Conversational French, Coastal Navigation (Lymington has an armada of sailing boats at its back door), Etching, Cookery, Weaving. For a term of three months, one class a week, a member pays six shillings! Children have their own courses, such as Painting, Speech and Drama, Dancing. And to this local university for all ages are added a debating Forum that boldly faces religion and politics, a Scientific Film Club, a weekly Women’s Hour, that- provides talks and films while children are looked after, and stimulating exhibitions (“Georgian Lymington” is on at present)—and that is only a very short selection.

Finally, the sphere of common- sense. A Citizens’ Advice Bureau (run at the Centre), a Sitters-in Scheme, and an Old People’s Welfare Committee are typical of many services sponsored by the Association—services that have sprung up to meet agreed needs. As fresh needs appear other services will follow, for the Association represents a complete cross-section of Lymington society, and in its care fully democratic organization every­ one can have his say. One visit to the Centre is enough to convince the most dubious that Lymington really mixes in it, and mixes profitably. Public opinion is formed there, in open conference, in committee, over companionable cups of coffee; and if something needs doing, it is done. It is done quickly, moreover, because the experts are personally concerned, and in such an atmosphere of goodwill decision is simpler, than it can ever be in formal committee.

All this for a basic five shillings a year, and all a mere six- years’ growth! Nothing can now stop it expanding. Plans for extensions are out, and already four large huts in the garden are going into use, one for crafts and another for a Youth Hostel. I should have liked to say more about the crafts and their high standard, for there is great enthusiasm—and in this mass- production age we cannot have enough. Finance rears a head of normal ugliness, but grants have helped and funds are boldly raised. A full-time Warden—the busy diplomat and organizer essential to a Centre of this size—is maintained.

The Lymington Community Centre is a friendly pocket of concentrated civilization, where good citizenship is being translated daily from an empty phrase into action. It offers a flexible unit to bridge our latest social revolution, and the network of its sister Centres promises a new local stability in a changing Britain.

Eric Keown

Lymington Community Association Mission Statement

Lymington Community Association (LCA) was established in 1946 and acquired charitable status in 1962.
According to its constitution, its key objective is to benefit the residents in and around Lymington and Pennington “without distinction of sex, sexual orientation, race or political, religious or other opinions”.
To achieve this, it works to bring together residents, voluntary and other organisations, and local authorities in a common effort to:

  • advance education
  • provide facilities for recreation

The Lymington Centre (formerly known as Lymington Community Centre) exists to serve both needs.
While the day-to-day running of the Centre is the responsibility of the manager and his/her team – supported by many much-valued volunteers – the affairs of the LCA are managed by a board of trustees.