Study of local historical maps reveals that the Milton Hall, located just south of the railway bridge and opposite Station Approach, was constructed between 1894 and 1898. The man who commissioned the building was Mr Hugh Wyeth, a Winchester brewer. Mr Wyeth also built the Milton Hotel which later became the Speckled Trout pub. This was located where the Milton Medical Practice now stands.
Seen here, the Milton Hall stands alongside Misselbrook and Weston the first grocers shop in New Milton. The Milton Hall is one of the very earliest surviving buildings in the town of New Milton. It has been used for a variety of purposes. The hall was built as a place where the people of New Milton and Milton village could meet for social functions e.g. dances and for events such as auctions and other public gatherings. For a few years a youth club was run here by the Rector. By around 1900 the right hand side was being used as a branch of the Wilts and Dorset Bank as can be seen from the sign in the window of the above photo. By 1904 Bank Terrace had been built and the Wilts and Dorset occupied what is now Lloyds Bank.
The Milton Hall was also used by the town council to hold meetings in. Evidence of this can be seen in a newspaper report in the Lymington and South Hants Chronicle dated April 27th 1905. A public enquiry was held on behalf of the council regarding Mr Alexander Paris of Becton House who, after purchasing Barton Common was trying to prevent free access and use of the common. The newspaper report records that numerous Miltonians came forward as witnesses of their frequent and long term use of the common. Eventually, in 1910 Mr Paris took the people of New Milton to court for trespass. Despite being a solicitor Mr Paris lost his case as the town council were able to prove that the local people were simply exercising long held rights. The gathering of that evidence was carried out in the Milton Hall.
By 1910 Archibald H. Skoyles had an office at the Milton Hall where he operated as a house and estate valuer and also as an estate agent.
His advertisement indicates a growing prosperity in New Milton in 1910 where houses were sought after and the population had grown to 2300 from just a handful in 1886 when the railways station was built. Again it can be seen that the Milton Hall had a part to play in this growing prosperity of our town.
A good example of the social use of the Milton Hall can be seen in 1919 when the New Milton branch of the Comrades of the Great War held the very first anniversary dinner and smoking concert in the Milton Hall. The newspaper article published in the Lymington and South Hants Chronicle on the 27th of November 1919 states that the hall was provided free of charge by the New Milton Hall committee. The article records that ‘130 gentlemen sat down to a splendid dinner, the catering of which was admirably carried out by the members of the Comrades Committee’. After dinners there were songs and other entertainments provided. It is also worth noting that the comrades had a collection to help raise money towards the New Milton War Memorial Fund. In about 1928 Cecil G Foot took over the auctioneers and estate agents business in the hall.
During the rapid development of Milton parish in between the wars business was brisk. This is evidenced by the population of Milton now rising to 5320 according to Kelly’s directory. Again it can be seen that the Milton Hall played a part in this expansion. It would have been one of the first estate agents windows that visitors and potential buyers would have seen on leaving the railway station. The building remained an auctioneers until 1973 when it was taken over by Porter and Clark who sold a wide variety of items for the garden and for pets. Their advert stated they sold ‘Garden Sundries’. It was possible to buy from them all sorts of plants, seeds, bird feeders, garden tools, galvanised nails, shed roofing felt and even sheds. The Milton Hall was ideal for this use as the large space inside could easily accommodate all of the goods on offer.
In this 1992 photograph you will spot the New Milton Launderette which is now New Miltan.
After Porter and Clark closed down the Milton Hall was used as a carpet shop and then a sofa and bed shop. It is currently in use by S and P Furnishers who sell pine and cane furniture. Mr Wyeth, creator of the Milton Hotel and the Milton Hall, believed that the little community growing around the new railway station would one day become a large town. He thought that New Milton and Milton village were ideally located between the forest and the sea. He predicted the railway would bring in visitors and new inhabitants. Mr Wyeth died in 1900, sadly not living to see his dream become a reality. Through his vision he left us a legacy in the form of the Milton Hall which has played its part in the development of our town and is a part of our heritage.