Town Hall

“Where the Town Hall now stands was the site of a house and premises for many years in the occupation of a well known family who carried on the useful trade of London Carriers, almost the only means by which Berkhamsted received its supply of merchandise from the Metropolis.” (Nash, Reminiscences, p.16).

On 22 Aug 1860… “the new Town Hall at Berkhampstead – in the old English style of architecture – was opened in due form. It is a large and well-lighted room, built by Messrs. Matthews and Nash and designed by Mr. Lamb, the architect. This being the first public meeting held within the walls, we have the pleasure of stating that for light, sound, &c., it has fully answered the expectations of those interested in the undertaking.”
The Rev. James Hutchinson said “Respecting the origin of the movement… you all no doubt recollect when the old market-house was burnt down, and it was subsequently suggested and agreed, that a market-house, with a town-hall, should be built – a committee was appointed, subscriptions were raised [a bazaar raised £600]. It is the opening of the Town-hall alone which is now finished and conveyed to the trustees. We are much indebted to [Mr. Hazell, Mr Nash and] General Finch, of whom I should like to make a request, that he should consent to have his likeness painted by an eminent artist, and then placed in this room as a memento of his kindness.” The glee singers then sang ‘The Chough and Crow.’ Lieut.-General the Hon. J. Finch then rose, amidst the most vociferous applause, to return thanks. (Bucks Herald).

Market in front of Town Hall_bk11945_254

Market in front of Town Hall

On tap…
“The highly ornamental drinking fountain-cum-trough was erected [outside the Town Hall] to commemorate Queen Victoria’s jubilee in 1887, and the opening ceremony was performed by Dr. Bartrum, headmaster of Berkhamsted School, who said he regarded the fountain as ‘an indication of a tendency to temperance in Berkhamsted.’ Thereupon he sampled the water, apparently with greater relish than some other prominent townsmen who were less familiar with the liquid.” (P.C. Birtchnell, writing as Townsman, Berkhamsted review, Jun 1966).

Penny Readings…
“On Monday the Mechanics’ Institute gave its Christmas Penny Readings in the Town Hall. The attendance was not as numerous as usual. Mr. Samuel Crew, Elmhouse School, in the absence of the president, took the chair, and, in a brief prologue, spoke of the healthy influence of a good laugh, and the good effect of such entertainments ; and his timely remarks were well received. The programme was then given… singing, reading, performances on the violin… Messrs. Rippon and Tompkins are usually apt and humorous, but were not so successful as usual. Miss Collins, a bright young lady, acquitted herself well, but the star of the evening was the youngest of the troupe, Master Sear, who with the charm of youth and rare success in spirit and movement, captivated the company. Mr. Brooke found his memory treacherous, but stuck to his task, and bravely held on without book.” (Bucks Herald, Dec 1873)

Town Hall on coronation day_1953_bk9629

Town Hall on coronation day, 1953

The Town Hall clock was set up in 1897 in memory of Thomas Read, who was described in his obituary as “the most remarkable man in Berkhamsted”.