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Victorian Society hopes to help secure Fenton Town hall’s future

The protesters occupying Fenton Town Hall in Stoke-on-Trent have highlighted the urgent need to find a use for the building which preserves its architectural integrity.

Fenton Town Hall, Fenton, Stoke-on-Trent

The protestors occupying Fenton Town Hall in Stoke-on-Trent have highlighted the urgent need to find a use for the building which preserves its architectural integrity. Protestors have remained in the Town Hall, which featured in our Top Ten Most Endangered Buildings in 2013, since it was re-opened to view the First World War memorial on Remembrance Sunday. The Society hopes to be able to attend the meeting between local campaigners, Robert Flello MP and the Ministry of Justice to help ensure that, whatever uses are proposed for the building, its former council chamber and First World War memorial remain intact and accessible to the public. 

The 'Save Fenton Town Hall' campaign and those occupying the building want to see it turned into a community venue. Although the Ministry of Justice has stated that  whoever buys the Town Hall will be subject to a covenant protecting the war memorial, some members of the community remain unconvinced that this is enough to safeguard it and ensure public access. Following the occupation of the town hall, Minister for the Courts and Legal Aid, Shailesh Vara, has now agreed to a meeting about the future of Fenton Town Hall with Stoke-on-Trent South MP, Robert Flello, and local people ‘who are very passionate about this issue’. The Victorian Society hopes to be able to attend this meeting to help ensure that Fenton Town Hall’s impressive interior features are preserved for the future.

The town hall was built for the people of Fenton by the local Baker family in 1888. It later became a court which closed in December 2012. Over the years, internal partitions, plasterboard and heating ducts have hidden, but not destroyed, the impressive proportions of the Town Hall’s vaulted main chamber. But sadly, as English Heritage decided not to list Fenton Town Hall, its interior, including the Minton tiling and First World War memorial, do not have statutory protection. 

Victorian Society Conservation Advisor James Hughes said: The occupation of Fenton Town Hall by protestors demonstrates the real depth of community support that this building and its war memorial enjoy.  We hope that the Ministry of Justice will work with local groups and Stoke-on-Trent City Council to find a new role for Fenton Town Hall that will ensure that both its First World War memorial and former council chamber remain intact and accessible to future generations. 

Wednesday 12 November, 2014

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