Derby Hall, Greater Manchester
|The Derby Hall|
The Derby Hall, with Athenaeum House on the right
Location within Greater Manchester
|Town or city||Bury|
|Client||Edward Smith-Stanley, 13th Earl of Derby|
|Design and construction|
It was designed by Sydney Smirke, an architect best known today for his work on the circular reading room at the British Museum. The building has a central Venetian window and a pedimented portico with four attached columns.
It was originally the central part of a larger development that included the Derby Hotel on the left, and the Athenaeum on the right (both also designed by Smirke). These other two buildings were demolished in 1965 and 1971, respectively.
Construction of the building began at Christmas 1848 and was completed in October 1850.
The hall was opened on 6 November 1850 with a concert which was attended by 600 people.
The building was originally known as the Public Rooms, although it quickly became known as the Town Hall. At its opening, it contained a magistrate's court, a police station, the Earl of Derby's estate offices and a large assembly room.
Stanley hoped the building would become the meeting place for Bury's council; however, owing to a disagreement between the earl and the local authority, it was never used for this purpose.
In 1925, some of the Derby estates in the town were sold and the building was purchased for £12,500 by the borough council; it was at this time that it became known as The Derby Hall. The main room upstairs served as a civic hall, hosting dances, banquets and other occasions.
In 1936, despite much local opposition, the stonework of the ground floor was knocked out to make a large glass window for the showroom of the local electricity board. This remained for forty years, after which it was replaced by the three archways that stand today.
One notable concert held in the building was by rock band Joy Division on 8 April 1980, which descended into a riot after some of the audience started throwing bottles at the stage. This was because Alan Hempstall of Crispy Ambulance and Simon Topping of A Certain Ratio filled in on vocals, since Joy Division's own lead singer Ian Curtis was recovering from an attempted suicide bid the previous day.
- Pevsner, Nikolaus (1969). The Buildings of England: South Lancashire (1st ed.). London: Penguin. p. 99. ISBN 0 14 0710 36 1.
- The Manchester Courier, and Lancashire General Advertiser, Saturday 5 October 1850, p. 5
- "Bury, Lancashire". The Musical Times. 4 (79): 106. 1 December 1850. Retrieved 10 December 2016.
A concert was given on the 6th of November, on the occasion of the opening of the new town hall, built from a design by Sidney Smirke, of London : it will accommodate 500 persons, but the audience, on this occasion, numbered 600. The formation of a Philharmonic Society in Bury, has been decided upon.