As someone running a building that’s been around for over a century, I often take the long view. Back in 1889, when our Town Hall was opened, there was a strong spirit of civic responsibility. The building itself was a gift to the people of Trowbridge, built “for the benefit of the inhabitants of the town for ever”. You can feel both the power of philanthropy and longevity in that founding purpose.
Over the following hundred years, the town slowly declined and lost some of that confidence. Factories and mills closed and weren’t replaced, the grandeur of the town centre became a little faded. Trowbridge wasn’t unique.
In 2008 Wiltshire Council, offered the historic building to anyone who could afford to run it. To them, it was a liability. Could it be an asset to someone else?
The opportunity to take on the Town Hall appealed to a number of brave citizens.
The spirit of adventure was evident – an awareness of the scale of the challenge of restoring a creaking, crumbling building. But I’m not sure those pioneers were quite aware of how radical they were and how revolutionary were their actions.
For, in taking on this building and now sharing it with the people of the town, with everyone, for free, we’re doing something quite new in recorded civilization. In 1889, the building needed to be gifted, one person holding the power. Now, we all have it.
I’d like to invite you to join us in this quiet revolution. On Monday 28th May at 5.30pm, as the Town Hall marks the next stage in its post-lockdown reopening, I’ll be sharing our progress and our plans. It’ll be an opportunity to question, challenge, cheer and suggest. An opportunity to make your voice heard on the future and present of Trowbridge’s landmark building, a place that was built for your benefit. For ever.
This is an exclusive event for Trowbridge Town Hall members. Membership is free and anyone can join. You can find out more information and sign up here. If you’re a member who is interested in attending the event virtually, or in person, please email Antonia.