The History of the Town Hall
Our Town Hall, a proud symbol of the days when Chipping Norton was a Borough still dominates the heart of the town. With recent refurbishment it looks to be used even more as a popular meeting place for all kinds of events.During its 161 years it has seen many changes. It was originally built on arches with the entrance to the main hall and the Council Chamber up the broad flight of steps on the eastern side. Beneath were four lock-up cells for prisoners of the Borough as well as space for a weighbridge and fire engine. Until the opening of the railway the weighbridge played an important part in the economy as coal was brought from Banbury by cart and weighed before delivery. The poultry and butter market was held here on Wednesdays.
In 1857 meetings of the Corporation and proceedings of the Borough Magistrates were held in the Council Chamber. The Hall was occupied on Wednesdays as a Corn Exchange. It was also used for auctions and entertainment. Previously these functions had been held in the White Hart. The weather vane, a foxhound, was given by the Heythrop Hunt.
In March1950 the building was seriously damaged by fire and was restored at a cost of 18,724 of which 8,150 was claimed by way of insurance and 1,670 was raised by public subscription following an appeal by the Mayor. In 1960 the external stonework was cleaned and restored at a cost of 5,240.
There are four portraits in the Upper Hall. On the left is Alderman Wilkins who was Mayor in both 1837, the year of Queen Victorias accession, and in her Golden Jubilee year 1887. Next is Albert Brassey, the first to be Mayor and MP since the Charter of 1606. To the right is his wife and JH Langston who was important in the initial plan to build the Town Hall.
Reprinted from the Chipping Norton News.