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Local people flock back to their town hall

(September 11, 2010)
ALMOST 1,000 people came through the doors of Warminster's Town Hall on Friday and Saturday to see for themselves what all the fuss has been about.
Most said they were astonished at just how well the building has retained its Georgian splendour in the face of years of town hallneglect. (1)
Most Warminster people had been in parts of the building on previous occasions while there were a few, those aged over 60, who used to attend when the town hall was the centre of the town's busy social life. (Pictured Friday's queues via Warminster Web).
Some non-Warminster folk have misconstrued the meaning of town hall as in big towns the town hall is synonymous with the borough council authority and the home of the local council.
In rural market towns town halls or guild halls  have existed for centuries, long before the advent of town councils, and are simply halls for the town in the way that village halls are halls for the village.
Plenty of older Warminster folk fully appreciate this and were keen to tell tales of their youth spent enjoying the amenity the town hall provided by way of a dance and entertainment centre.
Former Seaforth Highlanderand British Expeditionary Force veteran Lyall Murray recalled visiting the town hall every evening when he was based at Sutton Veny Camp in 1946 before posting to Germany - only to be posted to Knook Camp on his return where he renewed his acquaintance with the town hall and future wife.
Both he and local shopworker Diana Turner (from the Babyshop) recalled the great bands that used to play upstairs at the venue - in particular 'Mickey Scott and the Hawaiians' and 'Bill Stone and his band' who used to alternate every Saturday.
Mickey Scott emigrated to Canada but Diana is still in contact with him and is sure he would be tempted back for the opening of the building one day.
''He was back a few years ago when the solicitors were here and he asked whether he could look around the building but they refused,'' said Diana.
Others who visited included former magistrates who used to sit here and dispense local justice - happy days.
''What was on almost everyone's mind was anger at how the building had been lost to the town in the 1970s and anger at the town council authorities who are thinking of wasting so much money on the Assembly Rooms - which is a very unpopular building,'' said Steve Dancey from VFW.

(1) The town hall building actually opened in the reign of William IV but was designed by Edward Blore in the reign of  George IV. The current building replaced a building known correctly as the 'Old Town Hall', a line drawing of which can be seen in Dewey House. The note is from the Victoria County History of Wiltshire.   '
In 1830 Weymouth Street was made from it to provide a new road to Sambourne. Its cutting provided an opportunity to build a new Town Hall and demolish the old one which stood inconveniently in the middle of the Market Place. (fn. 88) Edward Blore, the architect of the new building, also designed the group built in the Tudor style, an early example of its use, at the opposite corner of the new road, (fn. 89) on the site of an inn called the 'King's Arms'. (fn. 90)'

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