Micklefield Community Centre

After the Second World War there was a great shortage of housing and for a few years afterwards a licence was needed to build a house due to the shortage of materials. High Wycombe Borough Council had purchased a large acreage of land in the Micklefield valley which had been partially developed privately before the war.

In the early fifties several hundred Council houses and duplex flats were built and often two families shared a house at first. More Council homes were built in the ensuing 20 years. Whilst shops, a school, library, public house and places of worship were built there was no community centre for community activities.

In 1977 at the time of the Queen’s Silver Jubilee, a number of different street parties were held and such was the community spirit engendered that a number of residents got together to hold events and raise money towards a community centre – but where would it be and how on earth could enough money be raised?

Some even went door to door asking for donations and signing residents up for a draw. A number of events were held regularly in St. Peter’s Church Hall.

Such was the enthusiasm that a small group approached Wycombe District Council to see if any help could be offered. By now time had passed and the 80s were here. A review of land owned by the Council was being undertaken under the auspices of the new Housing Chairman, Peter Cartwright, who was looking very carefully at what land could be developed and what should become open space or sold.

A new access road had been built behind Herbert Road in 1979 to alleviate severe parking problems and it was decided to leave land beyond as green space likewise land between Herbert and Hawthorne Road. Some underused garage sites and odd pieces of land were earmarked for development. There was, however, a large plateau just past the church and behind houses numbered 247 plus Micklefield Road. Council Officers had this earmarked for a Sheltered Housing Scheme. However, many new sheltered housing schemes had been built in recent years and there was now little demand. Moreover the plateau was reached by a steep incline from Micklefield Road – unsuitable for elderly residents in need of sheltered housing.

This was in the centre of Micklefield and, whilst not an ideal location, was the best site available at the time for a Community Centre or similar facility. The request from residents came at an opportune time – newer estates had a community centre built, but Micklefield, the largest Council estate, did not. Wycombe District Council at the time was receiving capital receipts from the sale of Council Houses to tenants and there was sufficient monies in the bank to help.

As it was acknowledged that Micklefield residents had, by now, been raising funds for a number of years and needed help to provide a facility which was now being built on newer developments at no cost to residents.

A relatively modest sum had been requested by residents which was supported by two local Councillors but when it came before the Housing Committee, at which many residents were present, their request was thought inappropriate. Instead Wycombe District Council offered to lease a large site on the plateau and build it to an agreed size and then let the Community Association run it and equip it internally with new furniture, curtains etc. The hard work undertaken by residents had paid off.

So in the autumn of 1989, 12 years after the Queen’s Silver Jubilee, the new Community Centre in Micklefield was opened. Within two years the Micklefield Community Association had raised £40, 000 for the building to be extended – a larger bar, storeroom and stage.

Few could have predicted that the Micklefield Inn on level ground and in a convenient central location would have been demolished in later years due to severe decline in patronage and a changing society. This would have been an ideal location for the Community Centre but was not available in the 1980s.

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