The Proposed Town Hall

Hornsey Journal, 19 September 1919

Ten years ago or more the erection of a town hall for Hornsey was seriously considered by the Town Council.

A site was to be had in Tottenham Lane, spacious and with a good frontage. The price asked was somewhere about £2,000 an acre.

But there was a call for economy at the time and the scheme was rejected. Now the project has been revived. The information has been received with surprise. The Council have kept their secret well. They have had no ‘mandate’ of late for the construction of a town hall. There has not even been discussion on the subject. Probably the desire for sudden action arose with the opportunity. When they had their earlier chance, many members were entirely ignorant of the needs of the municipality and were unable to appreciate either the inconvenience of offices situated at the edge of the borough or the impossibility of enlarging the existing premises as Hornsey developed and the work of local government increased.

Owing to lack of accommodation the Education Authority removed years ago from the Town Hall to a private house near Harringay Station; later still the Council had to acquire other premises for part of their own staff. The committees arising out of the war had to establish themselves wherever they could find accommodation.

It may confidently be expected that a set of entirely new duties will devolve on the Town Council with the proposed change in the administration of the Poor Laws. When the Boards of Guardians are abolished the wants of the Borough poor will be relieved from Hornsey instead of from Edmonton. An increase in health work is also to be anticipated. Municipal activities are expanding in every direction and unless the Town Council provides themselves with a proper home more make-shift offices will have to be obtained.

The death of Dr Orton, one of Hornsey’s oldest inhabitant, has caused his residence to come onto the market. No site could be better in respect of position. The old house, with its garden running to the footpath, is in the heart of Crouch End Broadway. It is thus in the most central, and one of the most important, business thoroughfares. It is near Crouch End and not far from Hornsey railway stations. Two services of omnibuses connect it with Finsbury Park, Muswell Hill and Highgate.

Assuming that the Town Council complete the purchase there will be disappointment for those who imagine a stately town hall standing in spacious grounds in a conspicuous position. These are not the days to indulge in luxuries. The Council must make their views long rather than wide and be content with modest public buildings that are sufficient for present and future wants provided they possess dignity.

The frontage of the Broadway land being small, the site would seem to lend itself for a building in the form of a quadrangle, similar to the colleges at Oxford and Cambridge, a handsome gateway at the entrance.

If the Council misses the opportunity to obtain this site they will probably never have it again, but having obtained it, they can let the building wait its convenient season. They will not obtain sanction from the Government for a loan for the work. The housing problem is too acute for men or materials to be diverted to the construction of municipal offices. The Council have conducted their business from ‘the old stand’ for a long time. They can afford to wait a few more years.

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