History of the centre

At the close of World War Two Kesgrave village was a small community of bungalows straggling along the Main Road, a few dwellings on the unmade cart track side roads, various shops, The Bell Public House and All Saints Church; very different to the Kesgrave of the year 2000 which was declared a town. At two Parish Meetings in August and September 1945 a decision was taken to use the £200 Victory Fund, not on celebrations which were paid for separately, but on a Community Centre for the village, creating a living Memorial. A Playing Field Committee was promptly formed and it soon began organising dances, whist drives and socials to add to the fund. The weekly dances proved very popular with personnel attending from Bentwaters and Martlesham Heath.

Meanwhile Parish Councillors had visited Community Centres in Cambridgeshire and had been negotiating with Reverend E.S.Wontner, vicar of Kesgrave. He had previously bought the field between the church and the Post Office to prevent indiscriminate building. His aim was to preserve an open space in the near vicinity of the Church but he was prepared to sell the field to The Parish Council of Kesgrave for £450. The sale was completed in 1947 comprising 6.25 acres of land. The Playing Field Committee was left with a balance of £125. Further fundraising continued and a week of events in November 1948 raised £100, including all the Remembrance Sunday church collection. The Scouts cleared the little copse near the Main Road, tennis courts were laid out and the Football Club began to use the field. The Community Centre idea included provision of a hall, but it was decided that until this could be built, the War Memorial Tablets should be housed in a lychgate which was donated by Mr W.O. Jolly. On Remembrance Sunday 1950 the Centre was opened and the Tablets were unveiled. Special mentions were made by Mr Reeve for Mr Stollery and Mrs Wilkinson whose hard work over five years had taken them closer to the idea of a centrefor the whole community to use.

Further fundraising continued and play equipment for children was provided by Mr Fenton in 1955. At a special Parish Meeting in February 1954 the deficiencies of the Church Hall for social events were explained and the meeting decided that a hall should be built as part of the W.M.C.C., using voluntary labour to qualify for a government grant and loan. The Hall should measure 80ft x 27ft and with the total cost not being more than £3,000. Work started on the Hall in March 1957, with the foundation stone being laid during the annual village fete by Mrs E.S.Hervey, whose generous donation of £1,000 assisted tremendously. The Hall was completed within 6 years due to the unstinting efforts of a small band of volunteers. The floor was laid in 1961, the furnishings added in 1962 and it was officially opened in 1963. The total cost including furnishings was £4,430. During the years of building several committees were responsible for the running of the Community Centre; a Playing Fields Committee, a Hall Funds Committee and a Hall Building Committee. Once the Hall was completed the organisation of the whole Centre was undertaken by an Executive Committee responsible to the Trustees of the Centre. In 1967 the memorial plaques were moved from the lychgate to the wall of the Hall and the lychgate transferred to the Burial Ground.

In 1987 a joint statement by Kesgrave Parish Council and Kesgrave War Memorial Community Centre Committee regarding plans for the new Grange Farm housing estate was issued. There were some objections to the proposed demolition of the existing Community Centre as it was still in good condition and because of the hard work put in by the volunteers to build it and the potential loss of the War Memorial. However the new Centre had many advantages. The agreement to sell the land would allow KWMCC a new building of 18,700 sq.ft. to be built by the developers at an advantageous rate of up to £200,000 (at January 1987 prices); being half the actual cost. The new Community Centre would be surrounded by 12 acres of grassland, of playing field standard and a car park of 20,000 sq.ft. It was anticipated that after paying for the new Community Centre, including the cost of equipping the building and the playing field, a substantial fund would remain for investment to support future KWMCC activities. The existing Trust would be transferred to the new buildings and land, to have the same character and to be subject to similar conditions. The agreement was made and the Village Hall, Changing Rooms and Function Buildings were demolished in 1991. This made way for the second access roundabout to the Grange Farm Housing Development after the new community complex was built at Twelve Acre Approach. The Memorial stones were moved to the lawn cemetery adjacent to the Royal British Legion Hall. KWMCC has continued to grow and expand over the years and is now home to many clubs and societies, meeting the needs of the community. It also provides excellent conference facilities with the addition of the Conference Centre in 2006 and the Boardroom in 2010. Various outdoor sports are catered for; including cricket, bowls, tennis, cycle speedway and football. Indoor sports facilities are offered in the Sports Centre which was opened in 2008. KWMCC remains a Charitable Trust.