The history of the hall
The origins of the Community Hall situated at Russells Water lies in a Conveyance of Land dated 10th November 1930 between Evelyn Sarah Winfield of Ewelme to Permanent Trustees. The cost of the freehold was £10.
Amongst the other provisions of the 1930 conveyance, it is provided that: "The Permanent Trustee shall hold the premises hereby conveyed (hereinafter called 'the Trust premises') upon trust to permit the same to be used for the erection of a suitable Village Hall... to be used for the purposes of physical and mental recreation and social, moral and intellectual development through the medium of reading and recreation rooms, library, lectures, classes, recreations and entertainments or otherwise as may be found expedient for the benefit of the Parishes of Swyncombe, Bix, Watlington and Pishill in the County of Oxford and their immediate vicinity without distinction of sex or of political or other opinions subject to the provisions of these presents."
The old minute books make it plain that a great deal of self-help went into the building of the original timber Village Hall at a time when there was no TV and much less made entertainment. Local fundraising events were held. The Hall was added to and repaired from time to time and has been in regular use throughout the period from 1930.
In 1998 the Hall Committee decided that the old timber Hall was costing too much to maintain and a good deal of rot was present in the structure. By that time some events (involving much jumping up and down such as keep fit classes) had been curtailed for safety reasons. A decision to try to obtain grants and funding sufficient to rebuild was made.
During 1999 and 2000 successful applications for grants were made by the Committee. As a result, the National Lottery Charities Board contributed approximately 50%, the SODC Community Fund contributed 25% and the remaining 25% came from the local community and smaller grants. The new Hall was opened on 17th November 2001.
The pond forms the focal centre of the hamlet and gained international recognition in the film Chitty Chitty Bang Bang when the car drove into the pond.
The earliest known record of the pond is in the notes on Russells Water which record "the pond came through digging for clay, there was quite a large brick kiln as well. It ran out of clay in the early part of the century.
Interestingly it goes on to state "in 1921, it was a very dry summer so they thought they would clean out the pond, hundreds of cartloads of mud were taken out on the back green and spread it all over the place".
By the end of the 20th. Century it was becoming clear that the pond was heavily silted up and again need cleaning.
To avoid introducing conflicting local fund raising priorities, fund raising to clean the pond was delayed until the rebuilding of The Village Hall was complete.
Once again, a dry summer brought matters to a head. At the end of 2002, the Russells Water Nature Conservation Group was formed with the initial focus on raising funds to clear out the pond.
The charter for the group was signed on 7 October 2003. Particular individuals and the community in general were once again very generous in their direct contributions and via fund raising activities such as the local Russells Water tennis tournament. In addition to the local fund raising activities, The Trust for Oxfordshire's Environment Ltd. (TOE) and Grundon Waste Management in terms of the landfill tax credit scheme, contributed generously and the project was undertaken in August 2003. Upper Nuttalls Farm very kindly agreed to allow the silt to be spread on its fields.
We are very privileged to live in an area of outstanding natural beauty (AONB) which is well endowed with wild life.