The Old Town Hall: Arts in the Heart of Bourne

Bourne Town Hall Trust in Partnership with Heritage Lincolnshire secures Support from The National Heritage Lottery Fund.

Bourne Town Hall Trust has received initial support* from The National Lottery Heritage Fund for the heritage regeneration project titled “The Old Town Hall: Arts in the Heart of Bourne” it was announced today.

Made possible by National Lottery players, the project aims to restore and bring back fully into use the Grade II listed Bourne Town Hall. The project aims to create a vibrant community hub open to all who celebrate the arts: serving and entertaining the people of Bourne, and visitors to the region.

Development funding of £316,344 has been awarded by The National Lottery Heritage Fund to help Bourne Town Hall Trust progress their plans to sufficient detail to apply for a full National Lottery grant at a later date. The project has also received additional match funding support from the Architectural Heritage Fund.

We will progress plans to conserve and repurpose Bourne Town Hall, to ensure that it has a viable and sustainable use in the future. We will work with volunteers to develop a programme of research and activities. These pilot activities will help Bourne Town Hall Trust plan in detail the capital phase of the project. We aim to keep the community at the heart of the project at Bourne Town Hall.

Commenting on the award, trustee, Charles Houseago said: “We’re delighted that we’ve received this support thanks to National Lottery players. Our small team of volunteers have worked tirelessly over the past five years to get to this point, it’s great to know that we are a step closer to achieving our vision.”

Robyn Llewellyn, Director, England, Midlands & East at The National Lottery Heritage Fund said: “Investing in heritage means investing in the community it belongs to, which is why we are proud to support Bourne Town Hall Trust to create a community arts centre, thanks to National Lottery players. This will not only preserve this important heritage to be enjoyed by locals and visitors from further afield but will also play a significant role in boosting the local economy and aiding the wider regeneration of Bourne.”

Matt Bentley from Heritage Lincolnshire added “Heritage Lincolnshire are extremely excited to supporting the development phase of this wonderful project.

The vison of the Bourne Town Hall Trust to turn this property into an accessible community asset represents a new lease of life for this iconic building and a great opportunity for the wider town. We look forward to supporting the trust through the next stage of delivery in creating a lasting legacy for Bourne”.

About the Old Town Hall:

One of the most impressive civic buildings in Bourne, the construction was funded by Brownlow Lord Burghley the 2nd Marquis of Exeter to the town, along with a sum of 100 guineas through private subscription by 123 members. The plot of land was gifted by the Marquis together with a contribution to the costs of construction.

Built to replace the original town hall, one of the oldest buildings in Bourne and described as ‘ancient’ in 1586 by historian William Camden and as ‘dilapidated’ by 1821, Brownlow directed that some of the material pulled down during the demolition of the first hall should be recovered and used in the current Hall’s construction. During recent works the removal of plasterboard on the ground floor revealed irregularly coursed stone walls which are believed to be this reclaimed stone.

The original design of the Hall included a central clock tower faced with a domed copper dial; the clock face and its accompanying mechanism were designed by Thwaites and Reeds of London, supposedly the oldest clock manufacturing company in the world.

The building was originally used to house the Petty and Quarter sessions on the first floor, alternating hosting responsibilities with Sleaford, while the ground floor, which has a series of multiple open bays onto the alleyways either side of the building, housed shops and a covered market locally known as ‘The Shambles’.

In 1890 the ground floor became the station of the fire brigade, the horse drawn fire pump housed in the northern ground floor arch of the building with the Shambles bays eventually converted into individual stables for the horses. In 1900 the copper clock face was replaced for one of white opal and a series of gaslights were installed to illuminate the face. However, on October 31st 1933 a fire broke out in the clock tower as the clock’s gaslight mechanism was contained within the wooden tower. Despite the valiant efforts of the fire brigade the tower was completely destroyed and has never been replaced, instead a clock face was installed on the pediment. The fire brigade relocated in 1946 and the Shambles became a store for market stalls. In 1974 the courtroom was reduced in size to create a smaller second courtroom and a larger waiting area.

About Bourne Town Hall Trust:

The Bourne Town Hall Trust was constituted in 2017 with the ambition to restore the Old Town Hall in Bourne (circa 1821), the trustees are committed to bringing the building back into regular use as a community arts centre, and thereafter administering the building on behalf of the town. The trustees currently put on events in the unrestored space once or twice a month in the ‘spirit of the final vision’. This includes music, drama, poetry, craft and monthly community cinema screenings. The trustees and all the supporting team members are all volunteers giving up their time to run this unique building for the benefit of the town.