TO MAIN STORY
is a red-letter day for Todmorden, and should the weather prove
favourable there is little doubt that the town will witness such
a demonstration as never took place in it before. The occasion is
the opening of the New Town Hall, just completed by Messrs. Fielden,
and the unveiling of a statue to the late Mr. John Fielden, which
has been erected by public subscription, close to the new hall.
The programme includes a procession of the gentry of the district,
the various clubs, Sunday school children, and other public bodies,
a demonstration in front of the new building, a banquet in the large
hall, and tea meetings in nearly all the schools.
commenced by a limited company, which had to give up the work for
want of funds, the Todmorden Town Hall, when partially erected,
was purchased by the Messrs. Fielden, who demolished much of the
work that had been done. They then engaged Mr. John Gibson, architect
of Westminster, London, who designed the present building, which
will be an ornament to the town, and is certainly one of the most
beautiful and complete public buildings in the North of England.
It has been designed to provide accommodation for all the public
offices of the town, and at the same time to furnish a large and
handsome hall for public meetings, concerts, entertainments etc.
over the stream that divides the counties of York and Lancaster,
it is in the very centre of the town, and in the midst of the best
buildings and shops. In form it is a parallelogram, on a plan terminated
towards Odd Fellows' Bridge by a bold and circular end. The front
is to County Bridge, with a width of 53 feet, and the building has
also frontages to Bridge Street and North Street of 130 feet; and
to Odd Fellows of 53 feet.
is in the Italian style of architecture, and the walls are faced
externally with Illingby stone. The upper story is divided into
bays by three-quarter columns of a composite order on three sides,
and at the circular end are detached cabled columns, with carved
architraves and the windows and niches are also richly carved, and
a bold cornice with interlacing frieze runs round the building,
the Tudor rose being introduced as emblematic of the two counties
in which the building stands. The pediment, which stops the roof
at the County Bridge front, contains a fine group of statuary. On
a pedestal in the centre are female figures, hand in hand, representing
the sister counties of York and Lancaster, and on each hand of these
are groups emblematic of the industries of the two counties- that
for Yorkshire including Vulcan at the forge, a shepherd and sheep,
and reapers; that for Lancashire representing stages in the cotton
manufacture. The whole has been carried out in bold and yet artistic
style, being worked out of Portland stone by Messrs. Mabey of London.
The height of the building to the top of the cornice is 54 feet,
and to the top of the pediment 67 feet. The roof is entirely covered
with lead, and the building contract, which was entrusted to Messrs
E. Neill and Sons of Manchester, has been admirably carried out
by their sub-contractors.
interior arrangements include spacious cellars, store rooms etc.,
in the basement.
the first floor are offices for the Local Board, a reading room
or library, a solicitor's room, a spacious petty sessions court,
with magistrates room, police and waiting rooms etc. Over these
is the large hall, capable of seating 1,000 people, being 96ft 9ins
long by 44ft 6ins wide, and 31ft 9ins in height. The whole of the
internal decorations have been entrusted to Messrs Geo. Trollope
and Son of London, and well they have carried out their work. The
whole of the walls and ceiling have been painted, the latter in
pure white, and the walls in diaper pattern of various shades of
green and grey. In all cases the dado is of darker shade than the
rest of the walls, whilst the skirting is of two colours of marble,
the plinth being in rouge royal, and the upper portion in dove.
This treatment has also been carried out in the petty sessions court
and adjacent rooms.
large hall has two main entrances, that for the gallery and back
seats being from County Bridge, whilst the grand entrance, to the
platform and front seats, is at the junction of North and Bridge
Streets, at the circular end of the building. The grand staircase
is semi-circular in form, and consists of a vestibule, a main staircase
of 18 steps, and two branch ones from the landing of 8 steps each.
At the foot of the staircase the vestibule is embellished with Hopton
Wood polished stone columns, and pilasters with moulded capitals.
The staircase rails are of copper, bronze and gilt, whilst the ceiling,
from which depends a magnificent gasolier, is elaborately decorated
in gold and colours, the patterns being radiating star and shell.
At the top of the stairs are retiring and cloak rooms, and the entrance
to the great hall. In the decoration of this hall the artists seem
to have lavished all their skill. The ceiling, which is a cove one,
is elaborately decorated in colours and gold, divided into three
large panels, the centre of each being occupied by a sun-burner
of elegant design, and containing 42 lights. The cove is in fretwork,
picked in two colours and gold, and is decorated with eight medallions
in plaster, on a blue ground, representing various arts, industries,
and sciences. The cornice is richly brought out in various colours
and gold, and below this is a bold scroll frieze, brought out by
a rich red background. The panels on the walls are diapered in colours
and gold, with handsome leaf borders, the corners being gilt patres
with red backgrounds. The windows are richly treated in gold and
colours and the dado is of tile work, in buff, with blue spot, and
has an ornamental border top. The rails in front of the gallery
are gilt solid, and the front of the gallery itself is diapered
to match the walls. At the back of the platform there are three
medallions, representing art, music, and literature, with a background
of mosaic, done in gold.
general appearance of the hall is grand, and almost beyond conception,
and neither time nor money has been spared in the treatment. There
are cloak and crush rooms under the gallery, and the grand hall
is seated throughout with chairs, so that they can be easily moved
gas fittings are by Messrs. Strode of London; the plasterwork has
been done by Mr. J.J. Harwood of Manchester, Mr. J. J. Horsfall
of Todmorden being clerk of the works.
the building is complete in all its details, and if, as is supposed,
it should this day become the property of the people of Todmorden,
it will be a gift equally worthy of the munificence of the donors,
and of the reception of a grateful people.