Wetherby Town Hall
|Wetherby Town Hall|
Wetherby Town Hall
|Town or city||Wetherby|
Wetherby Town Hall is a Grade II listed community building in Wetherby, West Yorkshire, England. The town hall no longer plays a major civic function but provides an office which is used by Wetherby Town Council and facilities for local groups and events.
Old Town Hall
Wetherby's first town hall occupied the same site on the Market Place. It was a small plain building with little decoration, a clock on the front and bell tower. Its northern side had an external staircase to the first floor where civic and county court functions were carried out. The ground floor contained the town gaol and outside were the town stocks. It was demolished in 1845. Adjacent to the old town hall was the Market Place Chapel, a chapel of ease to the parish church in Spofforth, built in 1763. It was damaged in a fire in 1823 and became increasingly dilapidated.
New Town Hall
In 1845 it was decided that the town hall containing the old Court House could be demolished and William Raby, curate at Spofforth proposed that its site, together with that of the chapel could provide the site for the new town hall and a national schoolroom. The schoolroom replaced the Sunday school held in the chapel. His proposal was supported by the Bishop of Ripon but was beset by problems. The church was assured the schoolroom would be used as a Sunday school in perpetuity but that use ended with the opening of a hall adjacent to St James' Church.
The town hall's foundation stone was laid in 1845 and the building was completed at a cost of £1300 which was raised by public subscription. The new building was used for the county court, assembly rooms, a reading room, a small gaol, and had a ground-floor schoolroom. In 1846 the schoolroom was fitted out with a grant from the National Society.
The town hall was used as a court house until Wetherby Magistrates Court was built in the 1960s. The town hall's south side had a door to enable prisoners to be taken to the upper room but by 1962 it had gone. The main front chimney's originally had bells to summon the fire brigade.
By the 1930s the seat of Wetherby Rural District Council had moved to new offices on Westgate. As a result of the Local Government Act 1972, the town hall and council offices passed to Leeds City Council in 1974 and the town hall was used for civic functions and the offices for administration. The town hall was at that time in a poor state of repair and was modernised soon after.
In 2005 an access ramp was constructed.
Facilities and use
The town hall has rooms available for public hire and an office used by the town council. Several groups use the facilities and occasional craft and antique fairs are held on Thursdays to coincide with market day. Trade events and public consultations are held in the town hall. The use of the town hall for trading activities has caused controversy with established traders who have protested about the 'cut price' sale of trading space which harms traders whose rates have helped to pay for its maintenance. In 2014 the town hall was used in place of a theatre for the filming of Get Santa.
- Unwin, Robert (1987). Wetherby the History of a Yorkshire Market Town. Leeds University Press for Wetherby Historical Trust. ISBN 0-9511968-0-4.
- Unwin 1987, p. 95
- Unwin 1987, p. 106
- Unwin 1987, p. 107
- Unwin 1987, p. 27
- Unwin 1987, p. 29
- Unwin 1987, p. 25
- "Wetherby town council, councillors". Wetherby Online. Retrieved 27 February 2014.
- Unwin 1987, p. 173
- Historic England. "Wetherby Town Hall and attached front wall, Market Place (1135070)". National Heritage List for England. Retrieved 1 March 2014.
- "Wetherby town website, visit, accommodation". Wetherby Online. Retrieved 27 February 2014.
- Unwin 1987, p. 209
- "Get Santa film to give major boost for Wetherby economy". Wetherby News. Retrieved 9 March 2014.
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