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Evening Telegraph, undated newclip, from 1967, and other newsclips
Council Passes Plans To Save Rushden Hall
Scheme may cost £23,500
RUSHDEN Hall will be almost completely saved and the best part of it put into public use. This was made perfectly clear at Wednesday's Rushden Urban Council meeting when the Parks Committee proposals for saving and restoring the hall were passed. Only four people voted against the proposals.

Chairman of the committee, Mr. R. R. Griffiths answering a suggestion that work on die estimated £23,500 scheme should be put off for a year to see if local people could raise money towards the cost, said that if they waited a year they might just as well not bother.

However, he said, he would suggest that local people or organisations should start raising money towards the cost. Anything that was raised would be gladly received.

Outlining the comprehensive scheme for restoring the hall, Mr. Griffiths said that about £2,000 worth of work needed to be done right away.

The scheme envisaged a cafe and turning the wood-panelled room into one which could be used for the public. There would also be a kitchen for cooking facilities.

The pensioners' Parliament room would remain and would be extended to include the room beyond. There would also be lavatories and a powder room.

What was commonly called the ghost room between the two flats would be made good and extended into one of the flats. Also saved would be the WRVS clothing room, but with a different entrance and the rooms at the end of the east wing.

These would have their windows bricked for possible use in the future. One suggestion was for converting them into maisonettes.

Mr. Griffiths said loan charges over 25 years on a £25,000 lean would work out at a three farthing rate, which was not crippling. On top of that there would be running and maintenance costs.

Set against that would be revenue from the rooms which would be used by the public,


Mr. R. D. Gilhooley said that if it was proposed to convert the east wing rooms into maisonettes, why was this not included in the cost. There was also little guidance on running costs. He drew his own conclusions and estimated it would mean a penny halfpenny rate.

Mr. D. Savory suggested holding off for a year to give the public a chance to raise some money towards the cost. He said that if they rushed the decision now it might seem they were afraid of the coming election results.

Mr. C. Freeman said he would have supported a reasonable expenditure on part of the hall, but he calculated they would pay £10 a square foot for what they were going to set. They could do a lot better by making something really worthwhile.


Mr. Griffiths answered all this criticism. He said that hundreds of people in Rushden thought saving the hail was worthwhile.

If they delayed now on the work they might lust as well not bother. On the question of elections, he said that if any members started to play about with council affairs with one eye on the election results they would not be doing the right job.

He added that he was satisfied a three farthing rate would cover running costs. The maisonettes were a suggestion—not a proposal.

The Rushden Echo, 7th February 1969, transcribed by Jim Hollis

Row brewing over hall restoration

The spiralling costs of restoring and rebuilding Rushden Hall look like causing another major controversy in the town. Rushden Urban Council have been told that the original estimate for the work of £23,450 has jumped by about £13,000.

After a long and sometimes stormy debate at last week’s meeting, the council decided to go ahead with the scheme providing the Ministry of Housing accepts the tender for the work. The scheme got through by nine votes to six.

This means that the ratepayers – or the town in general – will be faced with an annual bill of £3,737, which works out at 1¼d rate, over the next thirty years. That is assuming loan sanction is granted.

Added to that will be the annual cost of running the hall. Way back in April 1966, it was estimated that would cost £1,530 a year – just over ½d rate.

Allowing for increased costs and speaking in round figures it could be said the restoration, rebuilding and running costs will work out at an additional 2d rate – in other words £6,000 a year.


Already the scheme has brought a letter of protest from an indignant ratepayer. He described the nine councillors who voted for the go ahead as “spendthrifts” who voted to burden the Rushden ratepayers with a £36,000 white elephant.

He hopes that loan sanction will be turned down.

The whole question of the future fate and status of the hall was first raised at a public meeting that was held two years ago. At that stage nobody knew for sure just how much the job would cost, but the meeting as a whole voted in favour of the scheme.

Now that the costs are known the “Echo” decided to test general reactions and feeling by contacting people with a declared interest in the restoration of the hall, and by conducting spot interviews in the street.

Mr. John Slee, publicity officer for Rushden Amenities Society, who were one of the prime movers in favour of restoring the hall, said the hall was a great asset to Rushden and the only building of any consequence in the town.

Asked if he felt the work should still go ahead, he said yes, no matter what the cost. He felt the public meeting has shown that that was what the townspeople wanted.

He was also asked if his society would use the hall when it was restored. Mr. Slee said he was almost certain the society would, but that was too far ahead to consider at this stage.

“As long as it is put to good use it is worth restoring it. It’s a beautiful house and I should hate to see it bulldozed down,” is the opinion of Mrs. M. Edwards, of 18 Abbotts Way, Rushden. But Mr. D. Aspinall, of 42 Roberts Street, disagreed.

“I don’t think it’s worthwhile rebuilding it. Why not build somewhere new that can be designed around the needs of organisations that would use it?” he asked.

Mrs. D. Foster, of 77 Portland Road, has lived in the town all her life.

“I don’t want to see the hall disappear but I am slightly concerned about the cost. Now that the town has committed itself it should make sure that the project is not a complete waste.

“It should not allow the hall to crumble and decay during the next 20 years like it has in the past. It would be a terrible waste if that happened,” she said.


“I hope that the hall would be used extensively and suggest that local organisations should help to raise money towards the cost.”

A friend who was with Mrs. Foster, but who preferred not to give her name said: “The big disadvantage is that the hall is badly sited for people who might want to use it in the evening. I am also concerned about the cost and hope that the scheme will not be a complete waste of money.”

From the brief interviews carried out it would seem that most people would be sorry to lose the hall, although they were concerned about the amount of money being spent.

Most hoped that once restored it would be put to good use.

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