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The New Town Hall

Posted on: September 19th, 2018 by Sue

It’s in the early sixteenth century, while Peterborough still had monastic ‘rulers’, that the expression ‘putting the cart before the horse’ is first recorded. It’s a figure of speech about confusing cause and effect, or doing things the wrong way round. That fits the story of the present Town Hall perfectly. A proposal for a new Town Hall to replace the Guildhall in the Market Square was first aired in 1874. Nothing materialised. In the early 1920s, a decision – in principle – was made to widen what was was then called ‘Narrow’ Bridge Street. ‘What about building a new Town Hall?’ also seems to have reared its head because, on this October day, the city council decided to put wheels in motion for one. It was decided that the fairest – and probably cheapest, if truth were known – way to address this would be to hold an open design competition for the new building. Sixty-one design submissions were received. In March 1928, it was announced that a design had been agreed and in March 1929, John Thompson & Sons’ tender to build was accepted. Of course, the old Narrow Bridge Street buildings were still standing – and were very much in the way! Their demolition began on Tuesday 30 April 1929. (Jones, B.R., A monumental & Memorial walk around central Peterborough, TalkingHistory, 2004)

Taken from The Peterborough Book of Days by Brian Jones, The History Press, 2014.