The Mersea Island Community Association was formed in the early ‘70s with the object of building a village hall somewhere in West Mersea. After a couple of false starts a group of younger island business people became involved to promote the idea of buying the old Bus Station site and converting the building into a Community and Sports Centre. To cut short a long story of fund raising effort, persuasion, brow beating and sheer determination, the freehold of the site was purchased in 1979 and many hours were spent on plans and obtaining support and permissions.
There followed probably the most intense fund raising amongst the community that this Island has seen and £1,000’s were raised from functions of all sorts including three huge fetes involving the Army, theme dinner dances, selling named bricks, garden parties all over the place, opening the Charity Shop in four disused garages on the site and even raffling a new yacht.
The support of local people giving seven year covenants together with donations from businesses in the district was also instrumental in persuading local and government departments to back us with grants totaling £80,000 whilst the local bank supported us with a long term loan.
The Centre opened it’s doors on 25th July 1981 and the financial story since then has been quite startling. The Centre and freehold cost £210,000. We raised £130,000 in four short years and repaid the remaining £80,000 over the next ten. Then we built the new shop, fitness centre and small meeting room for a further £110,000 and by 1997 this too was paid off.
The Deeds and ownership of the Centre is in the name of Mersea Island Community Association which is a charitable trust. Membership is available for any resident of Mersea Island and district and the day to day running is in the hands of a Committee elected from the membership.
The Centre has many uses, the day to day ones are fairly well advertised many are listed in this journal, but at it’s heart it is West Mersea’s Village Hall and when the “chips are down” and a public meeting is required then the Mersea Centre is there for the job. It would therefore be quite wrong for an Islander to say “there is nothing in it for me” as we hear sometimes. There is something for everybody whether sometimes or often. It is Mersea’s “HALL FOR ALL”.
The Centre exists for it’s members and for the Island but it relies on membership fees to survive. The fee is very reasonable and by being members Islanders do their part to help run their Village Hall. Any enquiries will be gladly answered by our centre staff and volunteers on 384656