HISTORY OF AN INSTITUTION
Published at 07:41, Wednesday, 30 October 2013
l1857: The Corn Exchange Company is formed and draws up plans to build itself a permanent home for weekly agricultural markets and fairs.
Lord of the Manor Wentworth Blackett Beaumont, MP, and local banking house Messrs Lambton & Co. establish the Hexham Corn Market and Public Buildings Company.
Architect John Johnstone is appointed.
lMarch 27,1865: Mr Beaumont lays the foundation stone and an £8,000 budget is set for the building work.
l1866: The Hexham Courant reports: “The inhabitants of the ancient town of Hexham celebrated an event which will ever be recorded in the annals of the town; the opening of that chaste and elegant pile of buildings.”
Besides the Corn Exchange, the building also houses the town hall, the Mechanics’ Institute, the Farmers’ Club, the offices of a local surveyor and the local Board of Health’s conference room.
l1866-1920: The building plays host to balls, concerts and recitals, and a music hall.
The Corn Exchange itself is used less and less as the agricultural economy hits hard times. Eventually it is let to the Church Lads’ Brigade and Hexham Badminton Club.
l1917: Beset by a financial crisis, the Corn Exchange Company closes the building.
l1921: The Hexham Entertainments Company (the major stockholder, one Thomas Herbert) buys part of the building and transforms it into the 650-seat Queen’s Cinema.
l1924: The Corn Exchange room is converted into the Queen’s Hall ballroom, the perfect dance floor known for its 1,000 springs.
l1931: Fire damages the building and, in particular, the cinema.
l1932: Hexham Stage Society is launched with a performance of The Gondoliers.
l1946: Ownership of the north wing of the building passes from the local Board of Health to the county council. It is turned into a library and offices for the registrar of births, marriages and deaths.
l1960s: The cinema is converted into a bingo hall that runs until 1976.
l1970s: Building in an advanced state of decay.
l1975: Northumberland County Council and Tynedale District Council jointly purchase the building, intent on developing a library, arts centre and teachers’ training centre.
l1981: County council chairman Coun. Robin Birley opens the new library, art gallery and studio.
l1983: The theatre and the completed Queen’s Hall Arts Centre is anointed by arts minister the Earl of Gowrie.
Published by http://www.hexhamcourant.co.uk
This week in... 1968Friday, December 6, 1968...
Prudhoe workers were queuing up at the town's employment exchange to put their names down for jobs at a new £15million wood pulp factory.
Plans for the factory, which would occupy the former ICI site, had been passed by Northumberland County Council, and it was hoped that when it opened it would turn Prudhoe into a boom town.
Many of those registering for jobs had been unemployed since the ICI plant closed down the previous July.