Sandown community groups, councillors and residents came together this morning for a sunny, impromptu celebration marking 150 years since the official opening of Sandown Town Hall.
Organised by the Sandown Forum, the scene was set by Cllr Heather Humby, followed by a pop-up violin concerto played by Cllr Debbie Andre in the spirit of the original day.
A Grade II listed building, the Town Hall was built on Grafton Street in 1869 and opened by the Sandown Library and Reading Room Committee on Friday 21st January 1870 with a splendid ‘Popular Reading and Musical Evening’.
According to an Isle of Wight Chronicle report of the event, over 400 people (including many from as far away as Cowes and Brading!) packed the new Hall for a programme of entertainments that included a virtuoso violin performance by Mr Charles Fletcher, conductor of the Southampton Sacred Harmonic Society, who was brought in especially for the occasion.
The newspaper report, discovered by local heritage Facebook group Our Sandown in the town’s library archives, concludes,
“We may felicitate ourselves on possessing a really good town hall, quite equal to all the purposes the town is likely to require of it for many years to come… we look upon it as a most desirable and valuable addition to the attractions of the town.”
Jean Orman, Sandown Forum and organiser of the morning said,
“While the Town Hall is currently awaiting plans for a new future, it’s still a well-loved and valued building, and as today’s mini-celebration of a slice of Sandown’s cultural and architectural heritage shows, it could still be a popular place for community use and for people to gather.
“We hope to encourage more events and initiatives there in the near future.”
Cllr for Sandown North, Debbie Andre added,
“It was a really lovely event, but more importantly highlighting the need to protect our heritage.”
News shared by Claire on behalf of Sandown Forum. Ed