Todmorden Town Hall

Around 1860, it was decided to establish a company to build a Town Hall for Todmorden.

The first meeting of the new company was held at the Golden Lion, and the company obtained the land on which the Mechanics' Institute was standing.

Architect James Green was commissioned to design the building. There was to be a market hall on the ground floor and the public hall above.

The foundations were laid in the early 1860s, and the foundations, cellar, and ground floor were built. Shares were sold, but the venture began as the Cotton Famine started to have an impact in the town. The shortage of investors and increasing costs meant that the company was forced to wind up with the Town Hall unfinished. It was further discovered that the company did not own the title to the land. In January 1866, the partly-constructed hall was sold at auction and was bought by John Fielden of Dobroyd for £5,500. He and his brothers Samuel and Joshua commissioned John Gibson to re-design the building. It cost the brothers about £54,000 to complete. The Fielden family gave the building to the town.

The final neo-classical building was built in 1870-5. It was opened on 3rd April 1875 by the Postmaster General, Lord John Manners.

The Imperial Staircase leads from the entrance hall to the main ballroom on the first floor.

Sandstone from Knowlwood Delph Quarries, Walsden was used for the building.

In an attempt to bridge the gap between the rival counties, it stands astride the Calder, which flows in a culvert beneath the building, half of which lay in Lancashire, and half in Yorkshire. The figures on the pediment represent the cotton industries of Lancashire (on the left) and the woollen industries of Yorkshire (on the right). When it was built, the building straddled the county border, but this has since been moved.

It has an unusual apsidal rear end. The Great Hall has fine plasterwork on the ceiling and walls.

A version of the marble sculpture – The Flight from Pompeii – by the Italian sculptor Giovanni Maria Benzoni [1809-1873] stood on the grand staircase at Dobroyd Castle, and was later moved to The Town Hall.

On the flat end of the building, there are 3 niches into which (it is said) statues of each of the 3 Fielden brothers were proposed to stand, though this never happened.

Until the Hippodrome opened as a theatre in 1908, many visiting companies performed in the Town Hall.

In 1890, the statue of John Fielden was moved from outside the Town Hall to Fielden Square.

In May 2010, plans were announced for a £4million refurbishment of the building to include a Café and exhibition space.

After the stonework on the building became unsafe, and some of the sculpture had loosened, scaffolding and nets were erected [2010]. The work of restoring and making this safe began in March 2012.

The Hall is said to be haunted by a grey lady

See Todmorden Town Hall: Memorials

© Malcolm Bull 2023
Revised 19:59 / 1st May 2023 / 5878

Page Ref: KK_158

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