Birthday milestone for town hall

Published: 9 Apr 2012 12:30

OVER the years it's saved hundreds from the blitz, hosted Scottish luminaries including Billy Connolly and even welcomed the Queen through its doors.

ANNIVERSARY: Clydebank Town Hall

OVER the years it's saved hundreds from the blitz, hosted Scottish luminaries including Billy Connolly and even welcomed the Queen through its doors.

And today Bankies will pay tribute to the town's most iconic building as it celebrates its 110th anniversary.

The Town Hall was officially opened on Friday, April 4, 1902, at a time when the town was a booming industrial powerhouse.

With the shipyard and nearby Singer factory two of the biggest employers in the west of Scotland, Clydebank's population was growing, as was the number of council officials and politicians that represented them.

With the need for a new municipal hub of paramount importance, acclaimed architect James Miller was selected to create what still stands on Dumbarton Road today.

Billed at £8000, the baroque building took two years to build.

Thousands of Bankies gathered to witness the laying of a foundation stone in June 1900 in anticipation of what would become the centrepiece of the Clyde's newest town.

Currently closed for refurbishment, it is easy to obliviously drive or walk by a building which is steeped in history.

But the Clydebank Local History Society, meets twice a month in the hall, and its chairman Dave Carson spoke to the Post to reveal all about the "cultural hub" of the area.

He said: "It is absolutely vital to Clydebank - it is the centre of Clydebank.

"In 1902 when the town hall was being built the shipyard was booming and so was Singers - it was a thriving industrial town at the time.

"I think at the time of its opening they would have been really proud of it.

"It is steeped in history with lots of very famous performers having performed there."

In its time, the hall has hosted some of Scotland's most celebrated acts, including comedian Billy Connolly, actress Deborah Kerr, the Corries, and American concert singer Paul Robeson. During Clydebank's centenary in 1986, the Queen even enjoyed lunch at a civic reception to mark Clydebank's centenary.

And during the Clydebank Blitz the hall was used as an epicentre for the council and police with refugees using it as a rest centre and pupils being taught there after the destruction of Clydebank school.

Although the exterior has remained largely unchanged in its 110 years, the hall's clocks were only placed on its tower in 1931 while the Mercury statue at its peak was removed in 1968 as a result of storm damage.

Until it's refurbishment began last year the hall continued to host council meetings.

A line of portraits of the area's previous provosts aligned the former hallway and provided a reminder of the important decision-making taken in the hub.

Provost Denis Agnew said he hopes the character of the town hall is protected after its refurbishment.

He added: "I think it's an iconic building and is at the heart of the town.

"It has figured in just about everyone's life as well as their grand parents and great grandparents."

West Dunbartonshire Council were unable to update the Post on when the refurbishment will be completed.

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