St Mary’s Hall – Celebrating Memories and Community

Christmas 2019 sees the St. Mary’s Hall in the best condition it has been in for years. Current Chairman of the St. Mary’s Auxiliary, Barry Brady, is justifiably proud of the extensive renovations started in 2015 and completed this year that has turned a somewhat neglected building into a “significant, visual contribution to the Village Green.”

St Mary's Church and Community Hall, 2019

St Mary’s Church and Community Hall, 2019

He stressed, though, that although locals know the hall as St. Mary’s Hall, it is still and foremost a Memorial Hall, honouring the World War 1 veterans who organised it, those who fought in World War 2 and in particular the Fuzzy Wuzzy volunteers who supported Australian soldiers in Papua New Guinea. He also felt that the hall had become a major community asset through a close partnership with the Blackall Range Visual Artists (BRVA) which is now its major source of revenue through exhibitions and workshops. The Montville Memorial Hall, St. Mary’s Church Hall and Community Hall, to give it its full name, is no longer just “the second hall or “the small hall” in Montville: it is the hall at the head of the Village Green where music, art and Christmas are celebrated.

The renovations began under the stewardship of Beverley Scott who was chairman of the auxiliary for 2015 – 16. The Montville Village Association (MVA) contacted the auxiliary to explore how it might help repair/restore the hall. It was agreed the MVA would support the auxiliary in applying to council for grants and join a working bee to paint the exterior of the hall. Members of the auxiliary cleaned and prepped the hall and 5 MVA volunteers joined 5 St. Mary’s volunteers to give it 2 coats of paint. Using commercial trestles lent by Mark Inch meant that the team finished the bulk of the work in a day leaving the St. Mary’s crew the touch ups, trim, railings and pickets to complete the next day.

In 2016, the auxiliary won a major grant of $7,500 from Council to renovate the kitchen in the hall. This involved totally re-plumbing the building and re-wiring the kitchen so new appliances could be installed, re-placing the floor, re-painting the walls and ceiling and fitting new cabinets at a total cost of $15,985.

Then in 2018, under Barry Brady’s chairmanship, the roof was replaced at a cost of $23,150 with the help of a second CBFU grant of $18,200 achieved with the guidance and persistence of Tristan Lindner, the then Treasurer of the MVA. The front steps and balustrade were also replaced that year to comply with current safety regulations.

This year (2019), the tank, the tank stand and the back ramp had to be replaced because of rust/rot.

The total costs to honour the hall’s memorial status and heritage listing; and to meet current safety standards was in the vicinity of $55,000.

Jocelyn Bannister selling raffle tickets at St Mary's Hall

Jocelyn Bannister selling raffle tickets at St Mary’s Hall

Jocelyn (Joce) Bannister was the common factor over this 5-year work program. As one of the last of the Trustees of the hall before the church formally took over that role, and secretary/hall coordinator of St. Mary’s Auxiliary, Joce work tirelessly behind the scenes liaising with the MVA and Council, and participated in every working bee – and there were many. Well done Joce. The hall today is testimony to your commitment and tireless contribution to not on the St. Mary’s Community but the Montville Community as a whole.

Doug Patterson MHG

This story is based on an interview with Barry Brady and Joce Bannister and records supplied by them.