Wokingham Town Hall

Description

The Town Hall replaced the old Guildhall, which had become so dilapidated that it was decided to demolish it and build a replacement. The replacement was to serve mainly as a courthouse, police station, Council Chamber, small covered market, rooms for reading and a savings bank. The building, designed by Poulton and Woodman, was opened on 6th June 1860. It served as a courthouse and police station until 1905, when the replacement police station was built at the corner of Rectory Road. The police station has since moved to a new building on Denmark Street. The original inscription for the County Police Station can still be seen, high up near the roof of the Town Hall, opposite Gotelee House.

The unusual shape of the building is thought to be because of the irregular outline of the Market Place. It is constructed with bricks of various colours, mainly red. The roofs are covered with green slates.

A Grade II* listed building, it boasts rubbed brickwork in a variety of colours and designs, fine pointing and gabled windows that identify it in the Victorian Gothic style. The Town Hall's foul pipes, vent pipes and other drain pipes all date from the Victorian period.

The Clock Tower is 26m (80ft) tall. The original clock placed in it was an second hand one. Newspapers from that time reveal that in June/July 1866 (6 years after being installed) the clock stopped working and it was decided to replace it with a brand new one. The new clock was installed sometime between the end of 1866 and the beginning of 1867 and was manufactured by Mr. E. Tucker, of Theobold Road, Grays Inn.

"improvement during the past week has afforded great satisfaction to the townspeople. The clock strikes the quarters, the hour faces have been painted black with gilt numerals and hands which enables the time to be observed at a much greater distance than formerly"
Reading Mercury 24th Nov. 1866

In 1895 white illuminated clock faces were inserted into the clock tower to replace the original black-faced clocks.

On the Broad Street side of the building you can see arches that now contain businesses. After the Town Hall was built a Fowl Market was held under the arches from time to time.

In 1877, permission was granted for a horse-drawn fire engine to be housed in one of them. The arches later housed mechanised fire engines, a depiction by a local artist Morryce Maddams, can be found in the Town Hall.

When the new fire station was built and the fire engines were removed, the arches were used for the Wokingham & District Association for the Elderly (WADE) shop. It was later replaced by a number of separate shops.

In 1966 the Wokingham Society arranged for a blue plaque to be placed on the Town Hall to commemorate the year in which it was built - 1860. This can be found in the centre of the building from Broad Street.

The Notice Boards around the Town Hall display details of Town Council meetings that are open to the Public. They also display events in the town and a regular meteorological report.

In the 1990's, a working party was set up to improve the Town Hall. This was done with the assistance of the Victorian Society, who gave advice on architecture to enable repairs to brickwork and masonry to be carried out on various parts of the building, using the correct materials and in sympathy with the original style.

Source

Identifier

WTH0108

Citation

“Wokingham Town Hall,” Wokingham's Virtual Museum, accessed December 7, 2019, https://wokingham-tc.gov.uk/museum/document/WTH0108.