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The town hall should not be a mausoleum

MAJOR work will make Chipping Nortons polling station safe. The town hall, in West Street, was originally built in 1842, and is in a desperate need of repair. It is expected that work to refurbish the crumbling parapet will start shortly, while work to remove asbestos from the building was finished on April 7. Keith Greenwell, Chipping Norton town councillor and chairman of the hall working party, hopes that this will be finished in time for the elections on May 6. He said: It should happen in time, its our target. He could not say where votes would be counted if the hall was not finished.

As part of the first phase of the 200,000 project, work will start on Monday, June 14, to replace the entrance steps, hall floor and kitchen ,and to create a new bar. Mr Greenwell said: The building was burnt down in 1950, and since then, it has been subject to neglect. Water has been seeping into the side of the hall, causing the steps to weaken, and they will eventually collapse. Before these can be replaced, asbestos must be removed from the hall, and the crumbling parapet needs to be made safe.

Funds have been granted from various organisations, including West Oxfordshire District Council, which donated 100,000, 75,000 from the town council, 10,000 from the Friends of the Town Hall, and 12,000 from the Trust for Oxfordshires Environment. After the first phase of work is completed, the working party wants to raise another 500,000 to re-build the roof. A survey found that this must be replaced within two years. Mr Greenwell said: Its essential to transform the hall to a feature of the local community. The town hall should not be a mausoleum.

In front of the town hall are pictured councillors Rob Evans, Keith Greenwell, Glyn Watkins and Gina Burrows


Sixth formers Join the Town Hall Project Team


Tom Lodge and Ruth Jones inspect the Town Hall Steps with Cllr Keith Greenwell

Councillor Keith Greenwell is the Leader of the special Town Council Project Group just beginning the long process of restoring the Town Hall to its former glory.  Apart from other councillors the group includes outside surveyors, the Listed Buildings Officer from WODC and English Heritage. The first phase of the refurbishment involves removing the steps and making the foundations of the building watertight. This work should begin in June and will be completed by Christmas requiring road closures on Topside and part of the car park being fenced off to form a site compound. All in all this is pretty complex project for a town our size.

Keith thought this might be a great opportunity for a couple of CNS sixth formers with an interest in architecture and civil engineering to join the project group and get some first hand experience.  He approached Simon Duffy, Headmaster of CN school and asked if the school would like to participate in the restoration project. There was a lot of interest and Mr Duffy eventually nominated Ruth Jones, from Stanford St Martin  and Tom Lodge of Burford Road. Both are year 12 students and aspire to have careers in architecture and town planning. Ruth was attracted to take part because she believes her involvement in a major project on a historic building will help with her application for University. Tom was excited by the complexity of the management of the work involving so many different organisations with differing requirements and priorities.

Tom and Ruth will attend council meetings concerning the project and will be an integral part of the organisation supervising the work and making the decisions. Tom and Ruth have agreed to record the process and keep a diary that will form part of the record of the progress of the work and most importantly their thoughts and involvement, which will become part of the history of this fine listed building. This diary will be presented to the Chipping Norton Museum .

Simon Duffy, Headmaster CN School was delighted to have two of his outstanding sixth formers working on the project. Let's hope this will be the start of the school and Town Council working together on other town-improvement projects.


Thanks to Glyn Watkins for the pics.  Any media representatives interested in more background
to this story are welcome to ring Keith Greenwell


Launch of campaign to save Town Hall


Chipping Norton Town Hall is looking for friends.   This venerable old building (built in 1842) is beginning to show its age.   Being a Listed Grade II* building, conservation work is costly requiring specialist trades.   Urgent work is required on the front steps supporting the columns, The roof needs extensive new lead, tiles and insulation. The interior badly needs refurbishment  The total cost of this work would take up the entire Town Council precept (the Town Councils share of your Council Tax) for four years an impossible burden for a small town like ours to carry. We need to seek urgent help from grant-giving bodies (like the National Lottery). Chances of grants are best for a registered charity so we plan to set one up -  Friends of the Town Hall.  Before we can register this charity we are required to show that it has an income of 5000 a year. So to get the ball rolling we are inviting people in the town (after all it is our Town Hall) to subscribe 10 a year to become a Friend. This income together with proceeds from other fund raising events will give us the basis to register our charity and then apply for major grant money to help us safeguard the future of a lovely building which has dominated our town centre for 167 years.

 There will be lots of opportunities over the coming months for you to sign up to become a Friend of the Town Hall. We beg you to support the cause.