Kirkby in Ashfield, Festival Hall 1960s. Source: Kirkby Heritage Centre.
The Festival Hall
Just off Station Street, on Hodgkinson Road, was the Festival Hall, known locally as ‘The Fes’. Originally, it was Kirkby’s market hall and was one of the largest indoor markets in the county outside of the City of Nottingham.
One corner of the market hall sold second hand books;
‘The seller of second hand books was a jovial soul…his stall had scores of books neatly presented row upon row, packed as tight as rush-hour travellers.’
Source: Gerald Lee, Kirkby-in-Ashfield: Yesterday Remembered, 2007.
Programme details for reopening of Festival Hall on 30th September 1950. Source: Kirkby Heritage Centre.
Prior to the Second World War, the Festival Hall hosted popular Big Band acts. Then in 1951, as part of the UK-wide Festival of Britain celebrations, a themed exhibition was held there. In the 1960s, famous rock and pop groups played there, notably The Who in 1965.
Festival of Britain exhibition at Kirkby’s Festival hall in 1951. Photo Credit: Kirkby Heritage Centre
Throughout its life, the Festival Hall was an exhibition hall, a public community hall and eventually a leisure centre.
‘In 1980 we’d inherited what was basically the old Festival Hall with
a bit built on the side, providing changing rooms, gallery rooms and
squash courts. We turned what was basically the old Festival Hall
community rooms into a Leisure Centre.’
Source: Peter Lamb in ‘Kirkby: A People’s History’, 2002.
Demolition of Kirkby’s Festival Hall late 2022. Photo Credit: Kirkby Heritage Centre
In late 2022, the Festival Hall was demolished to make way for a car park for the new Kirkby Leisure Centre, which opened in August 2022.