Created By: Cheltenham Local History Society
The Town Hall was opened in 1903 by Sir Michael Hicks-Beach MP, a former Chancellor of the Exchequer whose family had long associations with Cheltenham. It replaced the Assembly Rooms as the major venue for the town’s cultural life (Note: the Assembly Rooms were previously located in the High Street on the present site of the Lloyds Bank and were demolished in 1900).
The Town Hall was built with freestone on the site of a former bowling green in Imperial Square. It was designed in Edwardian Baroque style by the Gloucester architect Frederick William Waller and constructed by a Cheltenham firm (Messrs Collins and Godfrey) at a cost of £45,000. Its design was not universally admired with one critic of the ornate interior describing the dark red marble columns and gold Corinthian capitals in the main hall as 'corned beef topped with mustard'.
The main hall can accommodate up to 1,000 people, twice as many as the old Assembly Rooms.
In its early years the building was also used as the site of the Central Spa. This was part of an attempt by the Council to revive the custom of taking the waters. Cheltenham was even promoted as the ‘Carlsbad of England’ in the hope that it could rival some of the great continental spas. Originally it dispensed four different types of water from Pittville and Montpellier.
You can still see the octagonal counter with four Doulton ware urns to the left of the entrance hall. Only one of the taps survives and, sadly, this one has even stopped functioning now.
This point of interest is part of the tour: Historic Public Gardens of Cheltenham