Westgate Hall is on the point of beginning its second century as a community venue.  On Friday, 24th October, following a year’s intense refurbishment, our former drill hall will open its doors to Civic story delegates travelling to Canterbury from around the country to attend the first day of their charity’s annual convention. Civic story is the national charity for the civic movement and has over 75,000 individual members.

As an organisation formed uniquely of volunteers, we take immense pride in being able to provide the hall as a venue for this national event.  The focus on people and community action could not be more appropriate given the history of the hall and the project to save it.  The convention will give communities beyond our city the opportunity to appreciate this.

Westgate Hall symbolizes what can be achieved when a community in its broadest sense – residents, public, private and voluntary sectors – works together.  Thanks to such cooperation, this repository of so many community memories is once again ready to serve Canterbury and its surrounding districts.  Built by public subscription in about 1913, threatened by demolition in 2010, the hall now flaunts the beauty of its original Edwardian features while incorporating 21st century energy efficient technology.

The Trust is thrilled that the TV Personality and President of Civic story, Griff Rhys Jones, will be attending and delivering a free public lecture Localism for Real to open the event.  And the Trust is delighted to have been invited to present the story of its efforts in saving the hall to the same audience.

The Canterbury Society – one of 500 civic groups across England – is hosting the Civic story conference and is supported by Canterbury City Council and Kent County Council. The Canterbury Society works to “enhance the quality of the environment in the city” by providing “a focus and a forum for those who love Canterbury, and give people a story on issues which matter.”  Civic story, the nation’s charity for the civic society movement, aims to “make places more attractive, enjoyable and distinctive” and to promote civic pride.  Since its launch in 2010, the charity has been joined by 290 civic societies and has over 75,000 members.

As part of the day’s programme, local organisations will have presentation tables, including the Trust.  Other the exhibitors at the convention will include The War Memorials Trust, the Canterbury Archaeological Trust, the Prince’s Regeneration Trust, Heritage Lottery Fund and English Heritage.