In the late 1850’s early 1860’s after losing their Abertillery headquarters the Oddfellows Arms, the Oddfellows Society planned to have a new hall erected.
By March 1862 a new hall had been built, located somewhere in Abertillery, I don’t know where the New Hall was situated though there was a court case just after its construction involving non payment for work done at the hall and money paid for stone taken from a quarry belonging to Mr Hiley of Abertillery. I can’t find any other information on this hall, although later reports stated that the different lodges, i.e. Prince Llewellyn The Good, The Tillery and Loyal Prince Albert, the Princess Tillery, Star of Tillery, the Monmouthshire & South Wales and the Loyal Prince Howell the Good Lodges to name a few and other Orders of Oddfellows were using public houses in the area as their headquarters, The Rolling Mill, The Commercial, The Old Bridgend Inn and The Royal Exchange, Blaenau Gwent.
The New Oddfellows Hall.
In November 1893 the Orders of the Oddfellows invited tenders from builders to construct a new hall. The tender of Mr William Smith of Abertillery was accepted and the new building went ahead. This new hall was to be constructed on ground between Cwm Street and Queen Street, whether this was the site of the old hall I don’t know, though at this time there were Oddfellows Cottages in Somerset Street, so they may have been named after the older hall.
In August 1894 the new Oddfellows Hall was completed. On many reports its address was Queen Street, Abertillery. The new Oddfellows Hall was a two story building with a Y.M.C.A. on the ground floor and this section was called Shaftsbury House.
Description of the Buiding.
The new Oddfellows Hall was designed by the Architect Mr D. J. Michael and was built under the Contract of Mr William Smith of Abertillery. The building was of stone with the front of dressed shoddy work was two storeys. The first was divided into 3 cottages, in one lodged the Y.M.C.A. of which was called Shaftsbury House (as stated above). The large room, seated with chairs and benches was 57′ feet by 24′ feet and could accommodate over 300 people. The Oddfellows Hall was well lighted and ventilated, had a gabled roof, lined with match boarding with moulding and cornice work. At the back of the hall were two ante-rooms, one 15′ feet by 12′ feet and the other 10′ feet by 12′ feet. The lavatories etc were fitted in the basement. The whole of the building made a welcome addition to the neighbourhood and was built at a cost of £1,000. including furnishings.
The Oddfellows Committee issued thanks for the received gifts off the following – Mr S. N. Jones, drapery and carpets. Mr Phillips, table cloths. Mr W. P. Thomas, door mat and hearth rug. Miss E. Edwards, a flag and Mr Edgar Williams an eight day clock. They also thanked the townspeople, tradespeople and members of the Abertillery Local Board for the services given free of charge.
The Opening Ceremony Procession.
On Monday 13th August 1894 the new Oddfellows Hall for the “Loyal Prince Albert” Lodge Independent Order of Oddfellows (Manchester Unity) was officially opened by Mr T. W. Powell of the Tillery Collieries. The Lodge members met at 10 o’clock at the Commercial Hotel (their meeting place up until the new hall was built) and marched in regalia through the town preceded by the Abertillery Temperance Band under the conductorship of Mr E. Sutton. The group marched two abreast and wore miniature Union Jacks, they called in to the houses of principle residents, the houses of which were decorated with banners and streamers of various colours. Members of the Abertillery Local Board joined in the procession and accompanied the Lodge to Penybont Colliery where they escorted Mr Powell to the opening ceremony. Those present were as follows – Mr T. W. Powell; Mr T. Phillips J.P.; Mr Daniel Lewis; Mr W. Rees; Mr T. Robins; and Mr John Handy; Mr W. B. Harrison; Mr A. Tilney; Mr Williams; Mr G. Gregory; Revs T. Griffiths and ? Mr Watkin Jones; Mr Mark Ashley; Mr J. Price; Mr W. Rosser; Mr E. J. Williams; Mr Smith and others:
The Opening Ceremony.
The procession arrived from Penybont Colliery at two o’clock, accompanied by Mr Powell who occupied an open landau with Dr W. E. Williams J.P.; Mr Thomas Price met Mr Powell at the door and presented him with a Gold Key with which he opened the building. Dr W. E. Williams J.P., occupied the chair and was accompanied on the platform by Mr T. W. Powell; Rev J. F. Rees; Rev T. Griffiths; Mr T. Phillips J.P.; Mr S. N. Jones J.P.; Mr W. B. Harrison; Mr W. Stewart; Mr D. Lewis; Mr J. Handy; Mr W. Rosser; Mr Joseph Wallace; Mr A. Tilney and Mr T. Allen: After many speeches and congratulatory praises on the Powells Tillery Company in connection with helping the workforce and inhabitants of Abertillery with the way the company helps in the social improvement and education etc the group left the hall to have a banquet held at the Market Hall catered for by Mrs Edwards from the Commercial Hotel, Abertillery.
In the evening a concert was held at the Market Hall, the Abertillery Temperance Band played a selection of music and entertainment provided by the following – Mr Ivor Foster; Miss Maggie Morris; Mr Eli Nash; Madame Annie Lewis; Mr Foster; Mr E. J. Williams; Madame Jones and Miss Morris: Also Madam North Harris on Piano, a Violin solo by Mr J. Collier and a Mandolin solo by Mr Jenkins:
Abertillery Intermediate School at the Oddfellows Hall.
On Tuesday 22nd September 1896 the Intermediate School opened in the Oddfellows Hall, Abertillery and King Street Baptists Vestry. The Headmaster was Mr W. D. Lewis-Evans M.A. London, he appointed Mr F. C. Carey B.S.c London ARCS. as assistant Master with Miss Edith M. Ewart M.A. Victoria, as the post of Headmistress. The school was the first to start in the county with 78 scholars attending, about 39 pupils in each premises, the boys at the Oddfellows Hall and the girls at the King Street Vestry. The governors gave praise to the Rev T. Griffith whose help and labours brought the scheme success. The school was only at the Oddfellows Hall for a few years until a new school was erected. On Wednesday 19th January 1898 the new Intermediate School, Abertillery was officially opened and the school left the Oddfellows Hall and the King Street Vestry.
During the 1920’s Oddfellows Hall was occupied by the council and was called the Urban District Council Chambers.
(Later information to come).