A Brief History of the Building
The Pavilion has been the primary civic building in Bentley since it was officially opened on the 28th November 1931 by Mr D MacGregor, Chairman of the Welfare Committee. The original grand opening was postponed due to an explosion at Bentley Colliery on November 20 1931, which resulted in the loss of 45 miner’s lifes.
The Miners Welfare committee raised funds to build the Pavilion by deducting one penny from each of the miners' wages. The building has special architectural interest because it is made from reinforced concrete, a material popular with the modernist movement in architecture in the first half of the twentieth century. The only other known early example of this type of material build is the Pavilion Suisse, of the University of Paris. The construction method is attributale to French Engineer, Francois Hennebique, with the Yorkshire Hennebique Company awarded the £10,000 building contract by the Miners Welfare Committee supervised by local man Percy C Woodhall, the Bentley Colliery site engineer.
The Pavilion continued to be a focal point for the community throughout the following decades, with weddings, parties, dances and functions fondly remembered by the older generation. In the early 1980’s, it became the central location for distribution of food parcels during the miners strikes. Unfortunately this prestigious building has suffered a slow decline in keeping with the demise of the mining industry. During the 1990’s, it possibly reached its lowest ebb in terms of lack of maintenance and investment.
In recent years the Pavilion faced an uncertain future and potential closure due to the Council being faced with achieving unprecedented public sector budget cuts. An initiative announced by the Cabinet Office in 2010 to progress the Big Society agenda were the plans to introduce a new ‘Right to Provide’ across public services. A key message of this was that Councils would be expected to accept suitable proposals from front-line staff who want to take over and run their services as third sector or mutual organisations.
The staff are all passionate about the Pavilion and subsequently formed a CIC (Community Interest Company) where any profit made would not be for personal gain and would be reinvested back into the building and the services it provide. It is with credit to the Council for supporting this venture demonstrating an innovative and creative approach to finding solutions.
In partnership with Doncaster Council a successful bid was made to the Heritage Lottery Fund in 2011 for approximately £3million to regenerate the Park and the Pavilion. The regeneration has been completed and has reinstated the lily ponds, band stand, entrances, ornamental gardens, new play areas, Multi Use Games areas, and of the course The Pavilion has been brought back to its former glory ready for the next 50 years.
I would like to take this opportunity to thank you for interest in The Pavilion and hope you have a successful and enjoyable visit on the near future.
The Pavilion (Bentley) CIC