Halfpenny For Your Thoughts

There’s a saying ‘It’s what is on the inside that counts…’, and it’s rather appropriate for describing Frank Halfpenny Hall, a plain and unassuming building half way up George Lane. The hall is home to the wonderful Abacus Pre-School, and inside is a place full of colour and music, imagination and laughter.

Frank Halfpenny Hall, George Lane, Lichfield

People have many fond memories of the hall. Responses to requests for information on  the Lichfield Facebook group show that this is a building that’s been an important part of the community over the years. People talked about attending Sunday school there, still having the ‘Peter and Jane Go to School’ book from their last day at playgroup, eating school dinners there when at St Chad’s school and regular jumble sales being hosted. It was even the venue for one woman’s wedding reception!

The hall is named after Frank Halfpenny, a Labour councillor, who I believe went on to become Lichfield’s first Labour mayor in 1965. He was the Sheriff of Lichfield, when war broke out in 1939 and the photograph below shows him maintaining the tradition of the Sheriff’s ride that September, accompanied by just one other rider.

Frank Halfpenny ensuring the tradition of the Sheriff’s Ride is maintained. Photograph used with thanks to Annette Rubery http://www.annetterubery.co.uk/

Cllr Halfpenny bought the hall and in 1958, donated it to the Lichfield and Tamworth Constituency Labour Party. I’ve been told that the hall was used as the Labour Party HQ during the two general elections of 1974 (in May the Conservative Party held the Lichfield and Tamworth seat but lost it to Labour in the October election later that year). It had originally been built as a Primitive Methodist Chapel in 1848 and a map from 1884 shows it had 130 seats for the congregation. It the 1930s, it was used by the Salvation Army.

Sources:

Lichfield: Town government’, A History of the County of Stafford: Volume 14: Lichfield(1990), pp. 73-87

Lichfield: Roman Catholicism and Protestant nonconformity’, A History of the County of Stafford: Volume 14: Lichfield (1990), pp. 155-159

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lichfield_and_Tamworth_(UK_Parliament_constituency)

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18 thoughts on “Halfpenny For Your Thoughts

      • CC The name Halfpenny comes from the Scottish name Mac Alpine which inyears gone by was spelt macAlpinie. Weavers of this name settled in Belgium where the Flemish dropped the mac part and called them Alpenies. At the time of the Hugenot persecution they returned to this country and those who were still weavers or spinners and had been working in the silk trade settled in Leicester or Nottingham and others who had become potters went to Stoke on Trent and Worcester

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      • Colin,
        I have been trying to track you down for a little while now and came across this website. It has been many years since myself or my Dad John were last in contact. I have done quite a lot of substantial research into the Sarah Barnish, Fred Littleton story and would love to share what i have found with you and see if you have anything to add to the saga.
        Please if you see this drop me and email to get back in touch. My email address is now michaelbarnish@doctors.org.uk
        Hope to hear from you soon.

        Michael Barnish

        p.s Sorry to use this page to get in touch. Was very interesting to hear more about Frank Halfpenny’s life and roles. He was truly an inspirational man.

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  1. Cllr Hafpenny’s wife was also on the council and I think was also Sheriff (but will have to check). My Dad John SHAW stood against her in 1972 for the Curbrough ward (and lost), but she was a nice lady…will look through books and Dads pictures.
    Strangely Dad ended up living directly opposite the hall

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    • Oh that would be fantastic, thanks. And very interesting that Mrs Halfpenny was involved in politics too! Think we’re getting a photograph of Frank Halfpenny from the Swinfen Broun trust.

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  2. Hi for some strange reason I cannot upload pictures to my email (driving me mad…will have to get the kids to look at it)
    However not all is lost..if you have the right books and more luck than me…so go digging please……
    Cuthbert Browns Lichfield Remembered (with Photographs) 1996
    page101 Mrs H is front row 4th from the left..Deputy mayor (my dad John SHAW is middle row 2nd from left) City Council 1972?
    ………………………………
    Howard Clayton & Kathleen Simmons The Spirit of Lichfield The 20th centrury in Photographs (Landmark Collectors Libary) 2000
    page72 Mrs H front row far left..again Dad is there back row3rd from left and Howard Clayton is back row far right Swinen Broun Trust 1980
    ………………………………………………..
    Its strange looking at who is left from those pictures. The first one I know is Jim Bazeley standing next to Ted Ashley in the City Council photo back row in the right of the window. Ted is also on the front row of the Swinfen Broun trust photo….hope you can do better than I …These are people to track down who could give you much insight

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  3. The Frank Halfpenny Hall was indeed the HQ of Lichfield Labour Party in the 70s and 80s and although it became quite dilapidated I still get quite nostalgic about it whenever I pass by. For anyone interested there is a very nice report of the wedding of Mary & Frank Halfpenny in the Lichfield Mercury dated 2nd January 1925.

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  4. My father used to ride, not on horse back though, the bounds. He was a Justice of the Peace. Took the people who rode the bounds all day as they had to stop at several public houses on the way for sustenance 😉

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  5. Pingback: A Frank Discussion | Lichfield Lore

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