IT MAY not always seem to fit in with being old, in many people's eyes, but some buildings in the Barry and District are now entrenched elements of our shared history. Now Karl-James Langford, why the Memorial Hall for this weeks column?

The names enshrined at the large hall - which I call the chamber of names - are of all those from the Barry and District who have been lost to war - the building is more than just bricks, mortar and stone.

For me memories of the memorial hall follow a long line of events, including election counts, memorials, fundraising events the Barry Museum Association, an event for a show I performed on for TV. In other words the Memorial Hall is a huge part of who I am, and many reading this column.

Memorial Hall is a beautiful place in wood; each name is a tree from that wood. The names after names are not those memorials from the Great War, but those of 1939 to 1945 and those conflicts since.

The memorial hall has seen its very own drama's including a fire in 1943. If the hall looks like a memorial erected at the battlefields of Belgium and Northern France, you would be correct in thinking that. It was designed by a military man, a Major E. R. Hinchsliff, and with a great deal of public donations, the hall was eventually opened in 1932, on what was left of the village of Holton and positioned nicely in the base of a disused quarry (one that had been utilised to build Barry).

The Gladstone Road Memorial Hall, now home to the Barry Town Council, and a range of events. The building makes good use of Portland Stone, and locally sourced bricks. There have been notable additions to the building in the 1960s. The Portland Stone offers useful dedication, carved into it including the words facing and overlooking the Park: 1914 IN GRATEFUL MEMORY 1918.

What more of the history? It can be quoted by the Barry and District newspaper (then known as the Barry Dock Newspaper), that refers to the Memorial Hall, 'it's noble spaciousness, it's purity of line and lack of ostentation... worthy of those in whose honour it was raised'. The irony of the Memorial Hall is that, it played a key role in the second war that would come after being a memorial to those that had fallen in the previous conflict.

It had been a temporary hospital between 1939 to 1945. Alongside those in emergency beds, the hall was used for entertainment of all kinds. You name it: theatre, bands, ceremonies, boxing tournaments, cinema and even fundraising for the war effort.

There was a serious fire in 1943 at the Memorial Hall on Whit Monday, June 14. This was at the time when as an emergency hospital there were 15 patients in their beds, thankfully nobody was hurt. But the Memorial Hall soon came back into use. An irony cannot be lost on me, when I say that after the repairs to the Memorial Hall, there was a fundraiser entitled, 'Help for Russia Fund' - how would that go down today?

More delights from our Barry and District next week.