‘...... The Memo was the centre of our community, everything happened here, everything.'
Exterior of Memorial Hall before restoration - Photo © Alwyn Jones
The Memorial Hall was built to commemorate the 75 men from the small town of Newbridge who died in the Great War (now called World War I) of 1914-18. The decision to form the Welcome Home Committee to honour those Newbridge soldiers and sailors who had fought in the War was made at a meeting at the Celynen Collieries’ Institute on 21st November 1918. Initially the Committee’s efforts were focused on a reception and celebration to mark the homecoming of these soldiers and sailors. The decision to build a memorial hall wasn’t made until 1923 just after the initial mortgage for the Institute had been paid off. The minute book records that on 2nd June 1923, a tender to build the Memorial Hall (referred to as “the new Hall”) was accepted by the Committee. At a Special General Meeting the following week (June 9th 1923) the decision was made to call what is now known as The Memo, the “Celynen Collieries’ Workmen’s Memorial Hall” and provision was made underneath the new hall for a “Gymnasium or Lesser Hall at some future date”. At this same meeting in June, it was agreed to take out a mortgage, using the Institute as security to fund the building of the new Hall.
Group photo on the day of laying the foundation stones 1923
Six foundation stones were laid on 29th December 1923 by Sir John Beynon the owner of the colliery, the Chairman W. Wilson, the Secretary M.H. Badge, Mr G. Barker the MP, the Rt. Hon. Thomas Richards, and Councillor W.J. Saddler. The Memorial Hall was formally opened in March 1925. The Secretary of the Institute, Mr M.H. Badge, became the first Manager of the Memorial Hall, taking up his post in November 1924.