History of the Mereworth Village Hall & Sports Pavilion.
Built in 1890 and formerly known as the “Institute” the Village Hall was donated to the Parish Council in 1953 by Henry Horne a local Doctor who lived at “Highlands” in Mereworth, to be held in trust as a public hall for the benefit of the Parish of Mereworth.
The Hall was originally administered by the Mereworth Village Association which incorporated the Mereworth Recreation & Sports Association however, this ran into difficulties and in 1996 the Mereworth Village Hall already a Registered Charity was formed incorporating the other bodies to be responsible for the day to day running and maintenance of the hall with the Parish Council being the Custodian Trustees.
In recent years a considerable amount of money has been spent on the inside and outside fabric of the hall to ensure it is kept to a high standard.
The hall is available for hire for meetings, functions and parties and enquiries should be made to Rebecca Simmons 01732 875963 e-mail Mereworth.email@example.com The Committee meets quarterly and further information can be obtained from the Chairman Rene Bennet (01732 872892)
The Sports Pavilion and field are owned by the Parish Council although the Pavilion is Leased to the Mereworth Village Hall who are responsible for its hire and upkeep.
The sports field which includes an adult football pitch and cricket square are used on a regular basis.
The Village Tote has been in existence since the early sixties if not before and is a major source of funding for the Mereworth Village Hall.
A radical re-vamp took place in 2004 bringing contributions and prize money up to date. There are currently 130 members with five monthly prizes as follows:-
1st prize £50
4 prizes of £20
The monthly contributions are £2.50 payable in cash or bankers order new members are always welcome and should contact the Co-ordinator Helen Card (01622 812495)
History of MEREWORTH VILLAGE HALL
The Village Hall was built in 1890 in memory of Benjamin Worthy Horne, of Highlands House, Mereworth, by his widow Nelly. It was originally known as the “Institute”, and was donated to the Parish Council in 1952 by his grandson, Dr Walter Jobson Horne, a Harley Street ear, nose and throat specialist who lived at Highlands, to be held in trust as a public hall for the benefit of the Parish of Mereworth.
Benjamin Worthy Horne – one of the leading carriers of his day, his firm eventually merged with Pickfords. He owned/leased a lot of coaching inns and was Master of the Innholders Company. He bought Highlands in the middle of the 19th century and built several cottages on the west side of Butchers Lane, all with his monogram on a roundel over the front door. In 2007 a developer was persuaded not to demolish the largest of these (Bay Tree House).
Benjamin Worthy Horne (1804–1870), coach proprietor, was the eldest son of William Horne, and his wife, Mary. William Horne (1783–1828) was originally a painter, and entered the innkeeping and coaching trade following an advantageous marriage to Mary Worthy, daughter of a wealthy wheelwright. Subsequently, in 1812, he purchased the Golden Cross inn, Charing Cross. Other inn yards were later acquired too, as well as stables for 200 horses at Barnet. In 1819 he had about 400 horses at work, and in 1827 between 700 and 800 horses.
Benjamin Horne took over the business when his father died in 1828. In 1836 he was the second largest coach proprietor (after William Chaplin), and had ninety-five coaches, including five mail coaches, leaving London every day. Horne was an exceptionally aggressive competitor, and he generally had sufficient resources to win any contest.
Harper described him as “a tall, lathy, irritable man, of eager face, quick, nervous speech, and rapid walk, with something of a military air in his alert, upright figure … Horne must always expend his energies on the minor details of his extensive business, and himself do work that would have been better delegated to subordinates … Up early, no day was long enough for him, and he economised time by taking no regular meal until evening. He was generally to be seen eating his lunch out of a paper bag as he swung furiously along the streets … Although there was no keener or more ruthless man of business … he was privately a considerate and kindly man, helpful and charitable to those less successful than himself.” (Harper, 2.221–2, 225).
On 4 November 1830 he married Catherine Larkin at St Nicholas’s Church, Rochester; they had at least nine children.
It was apparently his friend William Chaplin who persuaded him to adapt to the railways instead of opposing them. Certainly Horne was aware by 1835 of the probability of coach businesses being ‘annihilated by steam some few years hence’. He joined with his brother Henry and William Chaplin in the firm of Chaplin and Horne, which in 1840 became carrying agent to the Grand Junction Railway (later the London and North Western Railway or LNWR), and was also active on other railways. In 1858 he described himself as the managing partner, and was constantly in and out of the LNWR yards at Euston and Camden. When the railway took in hand the goods department at Camden, citing inefficiency, he challenged the railway at law and, although he lost, was regarded as having vindicated the firm. He also continued his coaches where they could still pay their way, and, in 1843, considered himself the largest coach proprietor. He had an estate at Highlands near Mereworth, Kent, and a London residence at 33 Russell Square, and he died at the latter on 14 April 1870, aged sixty-six. He was survived by his wife.
C. G. Harper, Stage-coach and mail in days of yore, 2 (1903), 210–25 · ‘Select committee … on the turnpike roads and highways’, Parl. papers (1819), 5.352–3, no. 509 · ‘Commissioners of inquiry into … mail coach contracts’, Parl. papers (1835), 48.435–9, 457–61, no. 313 · will, 1870 · IGI · Lords evidence on Northampton and Peterborough Railway Bill, Parl. Arch., 1843, vol. 2, 17 June, 217 · Commons evidence, Parl. Arch., 1858, vol. 45, 4 May, 1 · G. L. Turnbull, Traffic and transport: an economic history of Pickfords (1979), 110, 120, 130–32 · Robson’s London Directory (1836) · will of William Horne, TNA: PRO, PROB 11/1745, 303 · d. cert.