Posted by Charlotte Somers
1922: A New ‘Public Hall’ for a Changing Truro
Written by James Westfield, University of Exeter
After a great fire gutted most of the central section of City Hall (or Market Place as it was then called), much of the interior was rebuilt and the market hall recreated with a cinema. By the early 1920s, however, industry in Truro had declined and it no longer needed such a large market area.
The first mention officially of the need for a new ‘Public Hall’ for the city was in a council meeting on 12thJuly 1922, where it was announced (in the minutes of the council meeting) ‘the Public Works Committee have prepared a plan of alterations to the Market House, making a hall, which, with a gallery, would provide seating accommodation for about 1,250 persons.’
By the meeting of 11th October 1922, the city surveyor had created a scheme for 700 seats at an estimated cost of no more than £5,000. Despite this though, by the time Truro City Council came to approve the scheme on 9th May 1923, costs had already risen to an estimate of £6,000. Nevertheless, it passed with fifteen votes to seven.
By this time, it was widely reported in the papers that there were £6,000 proposals for Market House, along with images of the plans for a 982-seat scheme, so how many seats there would actually be was seemingly unknown! There was, though, much support for the scheme from the public, as was reported by the West Briton, who felt Truro was much in need of a new ‘Public Hall’.
With the invitation for designs being sent out by June 1923 and a competition for this set up by Sir Brumwell Thomas in London, on behalf of the Royal Institute of British Architects, as well as a fall-back prize of 100 guineas for the winner if the winning scheme was abandoned, the plans for a new ‘Public Hall’ had truly begun!