Sunnyside Hall
Rusthall Road, Rusthall, Tunbridge Wells, TN4 8RA
The following is taken from the September 2016 issue of the Rusthall Local History Group newsletter and is reproduced with permission from its author Dennis Penfold.

This building has recently been the subject of a range of enquiries possibly as a result of showing the newly formed RUSTHALL COMMUNITY CINEMA.

The Hall owes its existence to the Roman Catholic community of Rusthall. They either travelled to St Augustine’s Church at Grosvenor Road (now the Tesco store site) or worshipped in a rented classroom at Spring Gardens (Open Air) School off Burdett Road until 1960 when the Church authorities purchased THE HOLLIES. The ground floor of this detached private dwelling house was adopted for religious services and became known as ST JOSEPH'S MASS CENTRE. The congregation raised funds and did whatever work they could to provide a separate Hall within the rear grounds of THE HOLLIES, accessed off Rusthall Road on the edge of The Common next to Sunnyside Road, by 1970. The building was used throughout the week by various religious and non-sectarian organisations in addition to Mass being celebrated there every Sunday until July 2000, for folk from Rusthall, and beyond - especially Langton and Speldhurst.

In 1999 the Church authorities had decided to sell the original house and hall but entered discussions with the established users who, led by The Scouts and Nursery Play Group as the principal tenants, also approached the Borough and County Councils to explore ways of securing the Hall for future use by themselves and other community organisations. The tenants, who were engaged in lengthy negotiations, had to be registered as a charity in order to secure financial help These trustees had alterations and improvements carried out before the building was available for hire from late 2005 under its new name SUNNYSIDE HALL.

 

The premises were extended and in 2007 a Premises License was granted to the Management Committee (replacing the Trustees) enabling them to provide regulated entertainment facilities i.e. Music, Films, Sports etc. This was to prove highly useful when Eugene GARDNER proposed the creation in 2015 of a village film club. This opened May 2016 at the Hall in which his father Geoff (Newsagent 1955-85) had been closely involved in earlier years.

 

I further believe that mention should be made of Kevin POWLEY and John WEDDELL who devoted much time and effort to provide the Hall for community use after the Church elected to sell the property.

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