The Petts Wood War Memorial Hall is one of the few memorial halls in Kent and its story began at a public meeting held in the Daylight Inn on 2nd March 1945 to decide on an appropriate memorial to commemorate the local men and women who died in World War II. It was during this first meeting that the idea of a Garden or Remembrance and a Community Hall was first considered and agreed upon but it took another 9 years before the Memorial Hall itself was completed.
To set up a meeting place for the community was a considerable undertaking as there was absolutely no hope of any private building work being allowed at that time or in the foreseeable future, plus of course there was no money either. Having just come through the war, the people of Petts Wood would not let such "trifles" deter them from their task so 2 committees were set up; one (the Executive) to go into all aspects of setting up and running a community centre, the second (the Ways and Means) to set about the necessary fund raising. In those early days the elected members met in a variety of venues which, apart from "The Daylight", included the Civil Defence HQ in Tudor Way, the Marlborough Bakeries in Queensway and the home of Mr and Mrs Joseph Cast.
It was Joseph Cast who generously donated some land which he had originally bought as an investment for the then very princely sum of £4,500. Money to build and create the hall and gardens was raised by door to door collections and local fund raising events. Despite the still very remote possibility of private building work being allowed, a local architect volunteered his services, as did our first solicitor and an outline plan was drawn up. What quickly became clear was that the proposed site would not be adequate so, with unbelievable generosity, Mr and Mrs Cast extended their offer and gave the whole plot of land. Their only stipulation was that the area not taken up by the actual building should be laid as a Garden of Remembrance.
Volunteers were soon busy clearing and laying out the grounds under the direction of Mr Cast, whose main hobby was gardening. By May 1950 the Garden of Remembrance was ready and made available to the public with a service of dedication. Around this time the Petts Wood War Memorial Trust was set up and three trustees appointed to take over the deeds of the land and the Executive Committee was renamed the Management Committee but it was not until 1953 that a licence to build was at long last approved. The Hall was completed at the end of 1954 and the first lettings were made in 1955.
Since then the Hall has been extended and considerable improvements have been made. This has been made possible by a number of generous donations received over the years but also by the fact that the Hall is still run by volunteers who give freely of their time to ensure that the hall is properly maintained and managed. This is the outstanding feature of this Community Hall. It was built by the residents of Petts Wood, on land donated by a resident of Petts Wood and has always been run on a voluntary basis by people who live in Petts Wood for the benefit of all the residents. As much use as possible is made of free professional advice as can be mustered but often, it is pure "elbow grease" that is required. Not so long ago it was a regular occurrence on Sunday mornings to find the Chairman and Committee members on their hands and knees re-coating and polishing the hall floor.
The Petts Wood War Memorial Hall is a "live monument" to the fallen of World War II and the aim of the trustees, the Management Committee and the Ways and Means Committee is to ensure that it continues to be a wonderful meeting place for the community.