Topcliffe Village Today
The two villages – Topcliffe and Asenby – are separated by the River Swale and are actually located in different local authority areas: Topcliffe is located in Hambleton District and Asenby is in the Harrogate District. But these divides have not created any barriers to local people, who have worked tirelessly to maintain a communal facility for the two villages.
Topcliffe and Asenby are rural villages located approximately four miles from Thirsk. Topcliffe has approximately 350 residents in 140 households and Asenby 300 residents in 120 households. It is estimated that there are more than 150 children under eighteen in the two villages.
In addition, Alanbrooke Barracks are within Topcliffe Parish and residents are current or potential users of the village hall. The base represents a small community in its own right. It is the home of the 4th Regiment Royal Artillery and has approximately 553 personnel and 162 families.
The village hall, which stands in a central location on Front Street, Topcliffe, is operated by a voluntary management committee made up of local residents. The committee is well-established and has a proven track record of organising and staging a range of successful social events which involve and engage the local community.
After more than fifty years Topcliffe & Asenby Village Hall is still going from strength to strength. The hall is an excellent example of inter-village cooperation. It is a valuable resource for both villages…and many other users from surrounding communities.
Many organisations are regular users of the hall, including the parish councils of the two villages, various village committees, library, mother and toddler groups, indoor carpet bowls, boccia club, scouts, cubs, brownies, pilates and yoga. The hall is host to a range of annual events such as the Produce Show, Attic Auction and St George’s celebrations, as well as regular events such as birthday and Christmas parties, Sunday brunches, receptions, dances and film nights.
Recent improvements (2015-16)
In 2014 the village hall committee decided that improvements to the village hall would be desirable in order to update the toilet facilities, maximise the space for community activities, ensure full access for people with disabilities and improve the external appearance of the building.
The declared objective was to provide a modern, spacious and accessible village hall which would meet the needs of current user groups and encourages the development of further activities.
Plans were drawn up and submitted to Hambleton Council and approval to proceed was granted in July 2014. The works included:
• The construction of an entirely new toilet block with full disabled access.
• Construction of a new, more manageable access ramp suitable for pushchairs and wheelchairs.
• Conversion of existing toilet facilities to provide much-needed storage space.
• Improved lobby and entrance.
• External works to enhance the appearance of the hall, provide attractive flowerbeds and improve signage.
The above works – the main contract - were carried out by local builder Paul Thompson Contractors Ltd., based in Ainderby Steeple, near Northallerton.
Simultaneously, the committee also agreed to totally refurbish the kitchen area, though this work was not subject to the planning process and proceeded separately.
Additionally, significant other works including re-decoration of the main hall and ancillary rooms, new lighting, resurfacing of the excellent dance floor in the main hall, installation of an audio visual system and many other smaller improvements were undertaken.
The total investment was over £140,000, most of which was grant-aided by a wide range of organisations and by local fundraising.
Grand re-opening of Topcliffe & Asenby Village Hall
Following a year-long major refurbishment, the village hall was officially re-opened on Saturday, 15 October 2016. The official opening was performed by Thirsk-based Vet, Peter Wright, who co-stars in the "Yorkshire Vet" series on Channel 5. He was ably assisted by Nellie Ascough, who at 96 was the oldest resident of both Topcliffe and Asenby villages. (Unfortunately, Nellie died in February 2018).
Speaking at the opening ceremony, village hall chairman, Andrew Eckersley, said, “I am delighted with delighted with the outcome. The hall, which is shared between the neighbouring villages of Topcliffe and Asenby, is the main centre of community activity. The investment undertaken will ensure we have a much-improved facility that locals and other users of our village hall, can enjoy and appreciate. Without the support of our hard working committee and a range of very generous grant-giving bodies, we wouldn’t have been able to undertake this work, so I am very grateful to them all.”