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Crowland RBL branch closes after active membership numbers fall

A piece of Crowland's history has been lost after confirmation that its Royal British Legion (RBL) branch is now closed.

Just three months after it was announced that the RBL Hall, in Broadway, was to close permanently, the branch's committee members have decided to disband.

In a statement, branch chairman Mike Jackson pointed to falling membership and the fact that running costs for the hall were borne by the branch itself as the reasons for closing it down.

Crowland's RBL Hall has not been open for events since the first lockdown in March. Photo by Philip Green.
Crowland's RBL Hall has not been open for events since the first lockdown in March. Photo by Philip Green.

Mr Jackson said: "The Crowland branch of the RBL has been in existence for many years and holds happy memories for those who were involved with it.

"But the fact that the branch had to bear all the expenses of the building, and the fact that active branch membership totalled just four people, it was felt that it was no longer a viable option to remain open.

"Closure of the branch was not a decision taken lightly, however, Crowland is by no means alone in losing its branch of the RBL.

Crowland RBL Hall under threat of closure

"Regrettably, it's a sign of the times."

Branch treasurer Laura Potter, whose husband Brian was its secretary, said: "When it started, money was raised to buy the old Methodist chapel in Broadway and during its heyday in the 1980s and early 1990s, the branch had over 200 members.

"But now it's come down to the four committee members who were running the branch voluntarily, so it was a case of do we carry on?

"But there was no one else to step in so we decided it just wasn't worth carrying on."

RBL Hall's future lies with community, says town leader

Crowland parish councillor Cathi Elphee said: "It is sad that the RBL Branch is closing in Crowland but I do understand that over the intervening time, veterans and their needs change and what was relevant in 1940 is not so relevant today.

"As I grew up in Crowland, the RBL was always there and always a part of my life.

" I believe that when he died, my father was one of the longest serving branch committee members, having done it since 1973.

"My mother would talk about the fundraising events that were held to raise the money to buy the building in the late 1930s.

"At that time my grandfather was a member and my grandmother helped with the events."

Crowland district and county councillor Nigel Pepper said: "It saddens me that the branch has closed because my family had an affiliation with it for generations.

"My grandmother had her name in stone on the exterior of the RBL Hall, which came about as her parents contributed financially to the purchase of the building when she was a little girl.

"Also, my father was chairman of the Crowland branch for many years."

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