About Silsden Town Hall
Steeped in history and nestled in the heart of Silsden, our iconic Town Hall stands as a testament to the rich heritage and community spirit of a beloved town. For over a century, this majestic building has been a hub of activity, serving as a focal point for social gatherings, cultural events, and civic engagements. Today, it continues to thrive as a vibrant concert hall, offering a variety of activities and hosting public gatherings that bring people together.
The history of Silsden Town Hall dates back to its construction in 1891. Designed by the renowned architect Thomas Collcutt, the building showcases a stunning blend of Victorian and Edwardian architectural styles, reflecting the grandeur and elegance of its era. Since its inception, the Town Hall has played a significant role in the town’s identity, evolving into a cherished landmark that stands as a symbol of Silsden’s past, present, and future.
As a cherished community asset, Silsden Town Hall holds a special place in the hearts of its residents. Over the years, it has witnessed countless celebrations, important milestones, and significant events that have shaped the town’s narrative. From weddings and parties to local council meetings and public gatherings, the Town Hall has been at the centre of it all.
One of the highlights of Silsden Town Hall is its magnificent concert hall, which showcases exceptional acoustics and provides a captivating ambiance for performances of all kinds. From electrifying concerts and choral performances to intimate recitals and theatrical productions, the concert hall has been the stage for numerous memorable moments. It has hosted renowned artists, emerging talents, and local community groups, allowing them to showcase their skills and bring the joy of music and arts to the people of Silsden.
Beyond its role as a concert hall, the Town Hall offers a wide array of activities and facilities that cater to the diverse interests and needs of our community. The versatile event spaces within the building can accommodate a variety of functions, including conferences, exhibitions, workshops, and private events. We take great pride in providing a warm and welcoming environment that fosters creativity, learning, and social connections.
We are committed to enriching the lives of our community members by offering a diverse program of events and activities. Our calendar is brimming with engaging cultural events, educational workshops, and recreational classes that cater to people of all ages and interests. Whether you’re looking to learn a new skill, attend a captivating lecture, or simply socialise with fellow community members, this is the place to be.
As we look to the future, Silsden Town Hall remains steadfast in its dedication to serving as a cultural and social hub for the community. We strive to foster a sense of belonging and create opportunities for connection and engagement. Together, let us continue to celebrate the rich heritage and vibrant spirit of Silsden, making lasting memories within the walls of our beloved Town Hall. We warmly invite you to explore all that we have to offer and become a part of our thriving community. Join us as we embark on an exciting journey of arts, culture, and togetherness, at Silsden Town Hall.
The History of Silsden Town Hall
On a wet afternoon just before Christmas 1883, a large crowd gathered along Kirkgate. They were there to watch the foundation stone being laid for a Mechanics Institute. Now you know the building as Silsden Town Hall.
These spectators rightly felt proud. This new building was the culmination of many years of campaigning and fundraising. The Institute opened the following October. Ever since the hall, built with local labour and materials, has been serving the people of Silsden. It has witnessed huge changes to the working, cultural and social lives of Silsden people.
"This building is not for this generation only but it is intended to go down future generations for the cultural enrichment of the community".
- Lord Hothfield
The Town Hall has played a crucial role in our community during two world wars; it has encouraged education and learning and a love of books; it has played host to countless gatherings – dances, weddings, parties, fundraising efforts, public meetings, concerts, election hustings – the list is endless.
Perhaps the village worthies who met in the snug of the Red Lion Inn in the late 1860s, to discuss a proposal for an institute, could not have predicted how large the project would become and how central it would be to Silsden’s development as a growing and lively town.
And indeed not a great deal happened for several years, until local schoolmaster David Longbottom, impatient for progress and anxious to offer the chance of learning to Silsden’s largely uneducated working population, arranged a series of monthly lectures at the Red Lion. These classes included botany, philosophy, local history and the art of debating. Among the teachers and most ardent supporters was Charles Weatherhead, a local grocer and himself a self-taught man who became Silsden’s first council chairman.
The first fund-raising effort for a purpose-built institute was held in 1875 and three years later the committee opened an account with the Yorkshire Penny Bank. A central site adjoining the churchyard in Kirkgate was bought “for a very nominal figure” from Lord Hothfield of Skipton Castle (who owned most of Silsden at the time).
The foundation stone was laid by Lord Hothfield and by local mill owner George Jacques, following a community procession through the streets from Aire View School. (Both were presented with a commemorative silver trowel and mallet). Tea was provided afterwards along with a big public meeting to outline plans for the new facility – including a reading room, conversation room, classrooms, lecture hall, a shop and an office “all heated by hot-water apparatus”- and to drum up further fund-raising efforts.
“Every mite contributed is a move in the right direction,” declared Lord Hothfield, he was delighted to hear that “the good ladies of Silsden” were to launch sewing meetings and a bazaar. The Mechanics Institute was not for this generation only, he said, but it was intended to go down through future generations for the cultural enrichment of the community.
The Mechanics Institute, at a cost of £2,000 was opened 10 months later in October 1894. Its aim: to encourage villagers “to meet and employ their thoughts on high and noble subjects”.
It became a thriving centre for the community: villagers, most of whom had never been able to afford such things, were able to borrow books, read national and international news, go to evening classes, take part in noisy public debates, listen to musical concerts. It was a preparation for universal franchise and greater democracy that was to come.
In 1909 the trustees handed over the management of the institute to the Council, who officially re-named it as the Town Hall. Extensions were added and an entertainments licence obtained. It has continued to play its unique role in Sildsen’s community life ever since.