After seven months and £320,000 worth of exemplary workmanship, Tarland’s MacRobert Memorial Hall will re-open on Saturday (May 12).
The hall, which first opened in 1953, was beginning to show its age. In particular, it was desperately cold inside during the winter months, when users had the option of wearing outdoor clothes for indoor activities or feeding extortionate amounts of money into the heating meters.
However, hall trustees were aware that as well as meeting the comfort needs of existing users, they had to update the hall in such a way as to attract new users who might have believed it couldn’t offer them anything.
Questionnaires were sent to 450 households and public meetings were held to find out what the people wanted. The success of this approach was shown by the level of donations given and the enthusiastic community attendance at hall fundraising events. Even groups that hadn’t used the hall gave money to the project.
Changes will be immediately apparent as visitors enter the new front door into the larger and brighter foyer. The main hall is now much airier, its light oak panelling being set off by new tartan curtains.
The stage has new lighting and sound systems, each controlled by a mixing desk, whilst the smaller downstairs hall has a new kitchen.
The upstairs hall, previously rarely used, has been given a new lease of life by kitting it out with sound and vision facilities and will be offered for use by cinema clubs, for presentation, club meetings and children’s parties. Its servery has been updated and there is a new toilet, which will avoid the long trek back down to the foyer.
What visitors won’t see is the vast amount of new insulation hidden behind the panelling and which is expected to raise the comfort levels and halve the heating costs.
News of the improvements is spreading and the trustees have already had enquiries from potential new users. The trustees would like as many as possible to come along at 2pm on Saturday to see what they’re excited about. As a further inducement, there’ll be free teas and homebakes for all visitors.
The afternoon session will be followed by a free evening dance featuring music from when the hall first opened in the 1950s, up to the current day.
This project is supported by the Scottish Government and European Community Rural Aberdeenshire LEADER Programme (2007-2013) and Aberdeenshire Council.
In addition, the project has received funding from the MacRobert Trust, the Robertson Trust, the Garfield Weston Foundation, Awards for All Scotland, the Co-operative Community Fund and the David and June Gordon Memorial Trust.