The Town Hall, Bradford on Avon

Abstract from Jones`s History of Bradford on Avon:
The meetings of Court Leet were ordinarily held in olden times in the Town Hall, or Market House. As early as 1715 however we find a Court held at' the sign of the Swan' (apud signum Cygni). The old Town-Hall was a plain and unpretending building that stood in the centre of the Town,-(the surrounding site is still called the ' Old Market Place ')-and joined the block of houses which constitute the ' Shambles.' The mark of the gable-line is still perceptible on the blank wall against which it formerly stood. It was oblong in shape, about 25 feet long and 15 feet broad, and was supported on two sides by a row of stone pillars, all the space below being open, and appropriated principally to butchers' stalls. Between pillar and pillar was inserted some wooden palisading. Above, on the first floor, there was a room in which the Courts were held and the business of the Manor transacted. Hard by, were the pillory and the stocks, the upright post of the former probably serving as a whipping pillar to which young culprits were bound. The stocks were afterwards removed to the foot of the Bridge, on the south side, whence they have now disappeared altogether. Not a few are there among our ancients who regret that the days are passed, in which a little summary punishment checked the onward progress of crime, without the necessity of consigning the young offender to a gaol, and thus branding him with a mark of disgrace that no length of time can obliterate. [These offices and practices all passed away at or before the entrustment of the local government to a body of Town Commissioners, who subsequently developed into an Urban Council.}
With all these relics of bygone days, the old Town Hall, as have just intimated, has itself passed away. It had long been in a decaying state for want of repairs. Again and again had presentments been made concerning it, as a place not only 'unfit but unsafe to transact the Lord's business in.' Once at least the Borough Jury were bold enough to present the Steward, for not attending to their presentments in this particular. No attempt however was made to sustain the tottering fabric, and one night the building fell. Whether its fall was caused by accident or design,-rumour strongly asserts the latter,-men cared not to enquire. The person is now living who carted away the materials of the ' Old Town Hall' of Bradford, which he previously purchased for the sum of Twenty Shillings!

A print of the group of buildings that had earlier stood on the site.
1837 Map of Town showing the old buildings that previously stood on the site of the present Town Hall.
1864 Map of Town showing the newly built Town Hall.