After the First World War, the village wished to have a Memorial Hall of those who had lost their lives. A wooden army building in Denham was purchased and re-erected on a site at the corner of Market Place and Church Lane. This served the community well for many years until the major population increase in the 1950’s following the end of building restrictions on new homes.
By 1957 the old building was becoming uneconomic to maintain, nor could it be enlarged. A Committee of prominent persons was set up to find a site and negotiate with the County Council for a new “Community Centre”. The old building and site was sold, to be replaced by shops and living accommodation.
Bucks County Council erected a new Community Centre in 1961-62 on a site at Mill Meadow owned by Amersham Rural District Council.The original building comprised the Hall and Stage, Players room, Mary Smithells room, Foyer, office and toilets.
A handsome wooden plaque commemorates the formal opening on 15th.March 1962 by Lord Curzon of Bucks C.C. The full title, as required by the Charity Commissioners, was “Chalfont St.Peter Memorial Garden and Community Association”, to maintain the link with the former Memorial Hall. The Book of Remembrance, displayed in the Members room, contains the names of all village residents killed in the 1914-18 and 1939-45 World Wars.
After the opening ceremony, St.Peter Players gave a theatrical presentation. They have the longest links of any affiliated group with the Centre.
Mrs.Mary Smithells became Chairman of the Executive Committee. Other stalwarts in the early years included three local tradespeople, Bill Stringer (builder and subsequently President), Doug Robertson (butcher) and Ken Claydon (greengrocer). From industry came Frank Brooks MBE (Chairman of the Parish Council in 1966-67) who gave 25 years of illustrious service as Treasurer. Dr.John Tappin from Medical Science served as Chairman, and is still actively involved as President. The Association’s officers and trustees have always served as unpaid volunteers.
Mrs. Jenny Everitt joined in 1978 originally as bookings assistant. She has been the “face and voice” of the Association for over 25 years dealing with all the bookings and enquiries from the countless people who use the Centre. From Monday to Friday occasional bookings for three letting rooms, we have increased to seven days a week for 6 rooms in the mornings, afternoons and evenings.
Over the years the Centre has been enlarged by the addition of a Members room, a bar, a boiler house, toilets for the disabled, the Chiltern room and most recently in 1992 by the Tony Graham room, named in memory of our late vice chairman. The Parish Council occupied part of the extension until 2006. The Community Association also holds the lease for the Garden Club and St. Peter Player’s storage huts.
Most of the building is now 45 years old, and maintenance is an increasing problem with wooden construction and flat roofs.
Originally there was no fluorescent lighting, and the heating was by electric current passed through asbestos panels!! Security lighting, burglar and fire alarms have become necessary. The latest costly improvement is double glazed UVPC windows in most rooms. The original building cost £9,000 in 1961/62. We now spend double this each year on maintenance.
The Centre was originally built by Buckinghamshire County Council, who provided a paid part-time Warden as manager. When this ended, an annual grant was received in lieu. When this stopped, Chiltern District Council took over the arrangement, but halved the grant in 2001. The District Council and Chalfont St.Peter Parish Council both made generous grants towards the £50,000 cost of the 1992 extension. The Parish Council were our tenants from 1992 to 2006, and have made grants to various improvement projects over the years. Both the District Council and Parish Council appoint representatives to the Executive
The Community Centre holds a 21 year lease from Chiltern District Council expiring in 2015.