Mey Village Hall Project - News and Events at Mey Village Hall, Caithness

History

Mey Hall first came into being in 1875 when it was built as a drill hall for the First Caithness Artillery Volunteer Corps. Originally belonging to the Mey Estate, Sir George Sinclair, Earl of Caithness gifted the land and hall by feu charter in 1888 when he assigned to the trustees: ‘heritably and irredeemably that lot or area of ground’. The feu duty to be paid yearly was one shilling. As well as the drill hall the building housed an armoury and the attached house provided accommodation for the drill sergeant and his family.

This postcard of the drill hall from around 1900 shows two cannons in the foreground. These are now situated on the lawn in front of the Castle of Mey. It was around this time that the wooden beam supporting the roof of the hall was replaced by a heavy metal one. It was welded at nearby Harrow Smiddy where blacksmiths and their ‘prents’ (apprentices) gathered from all over Caithness. This was the first example of welding in the locality and caused great interest.

By 1908 the Volunteer Corps had ceased to exist and there was no longer any need for the drill hall. A deed of trust was drawn up regulating the manner in which the buildings could be used as a public hall. Reference was made in this document to the possible formation of a Rifle Shooting Club and in 1927 Mey Rifle Club was going strong.

At the outbreak of World War II the hall reverted to a military role with the formation of the Local Defence Volunteers. This continued for the duration with both the Black Watch and Royal Scots stationed there. In the late 1940s with the war over and the troops gone the hall became the regular venue for Friday night dances and the house was home to the hall keeper.

In 1960 the Deed of Trust was revised and adopted as the constitution of Mey Hall Committee. It stated that the building should be dedicated to the “physical, mental, social, moral and intellectual development….of the inhabitants of Mey and Scarfskerry“. Mention is made of the two main clubs in operation at that time, The Rifle Club and Darts Club.

During the 1960’s and 70’s Mey Hall was at the centre of a very busy community. Dances were again very popular and the Mey concert party was a great source of entertainment. A highlight every year was the Christmas Treat where Mey School and later Crossroads School would put on a great festive performance. The hall was in regular use and the committee decided to refurbish and extend the original building by adding storage and improved toilets. Mey Youth Club and the Senior Citizens met regularly and the improved building was catering for the whole community. It was also providing a fundraising venue vital for the many voluntary groups that existed.

In the 1980’s usage declined. Dances and concerts were less popular and the hall, with its low ceiling and small floor area, was unsuitable for sporting activity and the building could no longer cater for the needs of the community. The fabric of the building began to deteriorate.

Mey Village Hall is managed by Mey Village Hall Trust

Registered Scottish Charity Number 224554