Bilston town Hall, one of the most important Black Country buildings to survive the upheavals of modern development, is 141 years old this year, and in next week’s Black Country Ballads, poet Trevor Johnson pays tribute to this architectural icon.
The Town Hall was designed by architects Bidlake and Lovatt and throughout its lifetime has been used in a variety of ways, including local government, a night school, picture house, and a venue for some memorable dances; the list is endless.
It has also borne witness to significant moments in the town’s history and local historian Tom Larkin recently reminded us that on 28th September Bilston will be celebrating its 80th Royal Charter Day.
At the start of the 21st century this magnificent building was threatened with demolition, but five years ago, following a £1 million renovation project in conjunction with Wolverhampton City Council, the Gazebo Theatre Company moved into new offices at the Town Hall and have since resurrected its profile and once again made it useful and accessible to Black Country folk far and wide.
Today, Thursday, September 12th, and tomorrow Friday 13th, heritage open days will be held at the Town Hall starting at 10.30am and concluding at 5pm each day.
Mark Connell will be talking to visitors about the story behind the refurbishment; Cameron Lloyd will be discussing everything there is to know about the Town Hall organ; there will be a vintage tea dance; exhibitions from the Black Country Memories Club, and other subjects will be covered by Frank Sharman, Tom Larkin and Kath Kylie. For more information contact Gazebo Theatre Co. 01902 497222.
In keeping with the Gazebo Theatre Company’s policy of making the Town Hall accessible to a variety of new ideas, clubs and functions, the Friends of Bilston Town Hall will be presenting the film The Great Gatsby starring Leonardo DiCaprio on Monday, 23rd September starting, at 1.30pm.
The organisers would like to stress that there is disabled access at the venue and the doors will open at 1pm. Tickets available at the door are priced at £3.50 and refreshments will be available prior to the screening. For more information contact www.friends ofbilstontownhall.co.uk.
Astrid Hupperdine is spokesperson for the fledgling Friends of Bilston Town Hall group and she told us: “We are all looking forward to the screening of The Great Gatsby on Monday 23rd September, and it’s great to think that the old Town Hall will once again be showing movies.
“Locally, Professor Wood is famous for his picture houses of the 1920s and just across the road from the Town Hall he opened his Wood’s Palace Cinema in 1921. But his very first cinema was on an upper floor of the Town Hall.
“We have been well supported in our endeavours to start showing films at the Town Hall by Cheryl Welsh (Bilston Town Centre Manager) and of course Gazebo Theatre Company, and hopefully films will shown bi-monthly from now on.”