Derek Williams working with The Digitiser @azookcic
Plan of Truro new public hall, 1924
Record Number: HFC:2021:289
City Hall was built in 1846 to house the headquarters of the local council. In the early 20th century, civic leaders decided to make the market hall at the rear of the complex available for public use. This resulted in the market hall operating as a skating rink in 1907 and then as a cinema in 1912. The market hall was then remodelled as a theatre with a stage in 1925. This plan from 1924 details the partitioned space within the main body of the hall. In addition it shows the location of the fire station, kitchens, annex foyers and markets. Many of the partition walls still stand today, although the uses of the rooms has changed enormously to house Hall for Cornwall theatre and its auditorium, the Cornwall Playhouse.
Object Dimensions: X
Object Type: digital image
Method - preservation copy Date - 2021
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A pair of leg irons from c. 1840 - 1850. These were used in the jail at City Hall to keep those who had been apprehended secure in the jailyard, cells or even in the court above the jail at City Hall. After 1850, the jail and police station were considered too small and in 1857 were subsequently moved to a site on St Clement's Hill.
This memorial plaque, known as a 'Dead Man's Penny' due to its similarity to the penny piece, was introduced to the families of all who were deceased in the course of duty during the First World War. Almost 1.5 million plaques were issued, each with the name of the deceased inscribed.
Weights were used in the markets at City Hall and earlier, in the Stannary Courts in Truro (there were four Stannary Towns in Cornwall, in Truro, Helston, Launceston and Lostwithiel). Weights would be used to ascertain the weight and therefore the value of the tin brought to the courts from the tin mines within each town's district. Once the tin had been weighed and valued, taxes and coinage would be paid at the local Coinage Hall and the tin would receive the stamp of the Stannary town.
This weight is an example of a weight used in the markets at City Hall and bears Truro's stamp on the 7lb weight. Each weight bears multiple stamps depicting the period during which the weight was used, as well as the ruling monarch. Documented here are a 7lb, 2lb and 1lb weight from 1858. The word 'Avoir' next to the number on the weight's handle is a reference to the Avoirdupois System' a unit of measurement which combined pounds and ounces. This system of measurement was updated in 1959. The weights would have been used in the courts on the upper floor of City Hall as well as in markets to ascertain the value and fairness of products being sold.
A collection of three weights from 1909, used at City Hall. Weights used at City Hall have multiple layers of significance.
Weights and measures also played an important part in the green, fish and fatstock markets based at the hall. They were used to ensure that each trader was fairly assigning value to his stock and was overseen by Truro's own Weights & Measures administrator.
References to trade at City Hall date back to the original Market Stone of 1615.
In the Market House hall is a stone carved plaque dating from 1615. It has survived from the original market house that stood adjacent to the current site, and through the building, demolishing, rebuilding and extending of the Market House buildings on the site we see today. The wording on the stone is a motto that has been carried with Truro Markets since the 1600s and serves as a consistent reminder of both fairness and the presence of trade within the walls of City Hall. It translates as:
Jenkin Daniel Mayor
Who seeks to find eternal treasure
must use no guile in weight or measure
Set of Gallon Measures with Truro Coat of Arms
A set of eight measuring jugs, designed to nest within each other. Made in 1826 and bearing the Truro coat of arms (and a reference to Truro Borough Council) these jugs range from an Imperial Gallon down to an Imperial Quarter Gill. The measurement details what the jug can hold in today's measurements. The jugs range in size from 4.5l, down to 5 fluid oz.
This presentation silver gravy boat was presented to Truro Corporation on the departure of the mayor Dr Mabel Andrews who acted as mayor between 1965-6. The gravy boat is part of a specimen from a larger collection of silverware presented to Truro City Council at City Hall on the occasion of royal visits, shifts in power within the city. Also part of the collection are records of people who have received the Freedom of the City of Truro. This gravy boat has a clear hallmark denoting the maker's mark and information which describes the gravy boat having been made in the city of Sheffield in 1956, nine years before it was given to the inhabitants of City Hall.
The Duke of Cornwall Marriage Plate
Ceremonial plates are frequently produced on the occasion of royal weddings. These offer members of the public to collect an item of memorabilia which they can refer back to in years to come. This particular plate was produced in a limited run of 5,000 of which this plate is no. 001. The plate shows a central photo of the royal couple. The decorative borders include a monogram for each of the royals, as well as two Coats of Arms belonging to the Duke of Cornwall. On the lower left is the Duchy of Cornwall's arms and on the lower right are the arms of the Spencer family. The inner decorative border depicts dolphins, anchors and escallops, symbolising his Lordship of the Isles, naval connections and the escallops from her family arms respectively.
Isaac Roskelley's mayoral hat and hat box
A decorative hat worn by Truro City Mayor Isaac Roskelley Esq between 1913 and 1914.
Mayors act as ceremonial leaders having been elected by local residents. Their role is one of a public figurehead, communicator and influencer with regards to local politics and civic development. Truro's current mayor is Councillor Bert Biscoe, elected May 2020.
The hat is narrow and semi-circular in shape with peaked corners. It is decorative, with black fabric and ribbon wrappings. The centrepiece of the hat is a strip of golden brocade embroidered with beads and a large button. The hat is accompanied by its hat box which is inscribed with its wearer's name and role.
A tricorne hat (with three corners or pinned points) is a powerful visual symbol of hats worn by both mayors and aristocracy during the 19th century (see HFC:2019:98) however this fashion was largely out of style by the 20th Century when this hat was worn.
Manufactured by Christy's of London.
This menu card is an example of an elaborate design used for formal occasions in the last nineteenth century. On the front of the menu is an image of Truro's City Hall. Inside the menu is a list of foods that were served at the banquet hosted by Mr Arthur Laverton, mayor between 1889-1891. Some items have survived the test of time. Some haven't!
Cornwall Gazette states 'The halls and vestibules were garnished with all kinds of plants and art drapery, while the supper-room was fitted up in a most elaborate as a drawing-room, handsome artistic furniture being used for accommodations of the visitors; and the walls were lined with large mirrors festooned with handsome draperies in art colours'.
Centenary of conferment of the city of Truro
Truro celebrated a century of city status in 1977. The commemorative cover would have been sent by members of the public in the form of a letter. The cover includes an illustration of the Cornish Coat of Arms alongside a rubber stamp mark commemorating the occassion.The anniversary coincidentally took place during the Queen Elizabeth II's Silver Jubilee in 1977.
Kismet Foreword / TAODS 50th Anniversary (1)
The First Fifty Years: A summary of the activity of Truro Amateur Operatic & Dramatic Society is an important record of the earliest performances at City Hall post World War I and following it's refurbishment, costing £12,000. The first performance at the hall was the comic opera Ruddygore and coincided with the re-opening in 1926 (changing from the County Theatre to become City Hall) , attended by Mayor Stratford.
Kismet Foreword / TAODS 50th Anniversary (2)
The First Fifty Years: A summary of the activity of Truro Amateur Operatic & Dramatic Society is an important record of the earliest performances at City Hall post World War I and following it's refurbishment, costing £12,000. The first performance at the hall was the comic opera Ruddygore and coincided with the re-opening in 1926 (changing from the County Theatre to become City Hall), attended by Mayor Stratford.
Sarah Smith promotes the 'A Space For You' campaign for Hall For Cornwall, c. 1994
Sarah was a Director and General Manager during the transition from City Hall and its subsequent campaign to become Hall For Cornwall. Sarah Smith helped to establish the HFC Trust and led fundraising for the campaign.
The Hall For Cornwall Appeal
By the mid-1990s, a number of parties from the council, City Hall governance teams and national organisations decided that City Hall was no longer fit for purpose, and that substantial development was required to transform City Hall into a workable performing arts venue to serve the cultural needs of the county. These ambitions became the Hall For Cornwall 'A Space For You' campaign
Memories of the City Hall
I was the Property Maintenance Officer with Truro City Council from 1966 to 1974. My responsibilities were the maintenance and improvements of fourteen hundred Local Authority Houses and Public Buildings. My office was situated on the first floor which is now the Assemble Room at Hall for Cornwall; this also housed the City Architects and Building Control Officer. City Hall was a building of two parts; the front section overlooking Boscawen street consisted of the Town Clerk, Committee Room, Council Chamber and Magistrates Court. The rear of the building overlooked the Car Park, which is now the Piazza and this housed the Surveyor, treasurer and Public Health Departments – the two were connected by a long corridor. Situated in the City Hall was the Regent Cinema, but this subsequently closed, and the Hall was then used for concerts and dances etc. Adjoining the hall was an annex separated by a sliding screen and this was used for many functions including private parties, trade shows, fur and feather, harvest festivals also Fat Stock shows, the latter sometimes causing the maintenance section considerable repair work. The annex floor was originally groove and tongued one and a quarter inch boarding, but over many years of heavy use, had worn considerably thinner. It was not uncommon to be informed that a heavy bullock had broken through the floor! Eventually, after the floor was re-laid, the FatStock show moved to another location. By its nature and age, the City Hall was in constant need of major repair work, but the necessary money was not always forthcoming and with Local Government Reorganisation drawing ever closer and the future uncertain, only essential works were undertaken. In 1974 Carrick District Council became responsible for the City Hall until it became Hall for Cornwall.
Memories of The Six Squares
We had a skiffle group… The Six Squares. I made a tea chest with a broom handle and a piece of string, and I painted 6 squares on the side, red and black squares, and there was 6 squares and we said, we’re all pretty square, and there were 6 of us, so we called ourselves the 6 Squares. We started off in a pub called the Hope Inn at the bottom of Mitchell Hill. We used to practice in the back room. Just outside this room was a bus stop and when we were in there playing they used to come in and listen. After a couple of weeks the landlord said, “Look don’t practice in the back room, come into the pub itself…And course it used to draw the people in. Word got around that this group was playing this skiffle, and we got these invites to go to different pubs and hotels, and it got more and more. The night that I was due to go into the Army, our skiffle band were playing in a talent competition out at the Perranporth Memorial Hall. We actually won it so we had to go on again to do an encore and I was looking at the watch and thinking, “I’ve got to catch the ten past 10 Cornish Riviera.” I’d already said to my parents, “take my suitcase up to the station, I’ll come back straight from the do and go from there.” Twenty past 9 we were still on the stage playing. I thought, “this is getting a bit tight, we’re at Perranporth, 9 miles away.” Derek Hall used to have a butchers shop in Truro, he had a van which he used to take us around in, so we finished, hurriedly packed the stuff into his van, hammered back to Truro and got onto the station about 5 minutes before the train was due in. And what the chaps did, they brought the gear into the station, set it up and started playing to give me a send off, just as the train was pulling in. This is in the days of the steam trains. And who should be driving the train, but one of our friends. Cause he stopped and got out and held the train up for quarter of an hour while they had a sing song. And that’s the last time I saw my guitar. When I came out the Army, no one knew what happened to it!
Memories of the Fur & Feather Shows
The Fur and Feather, that was one of the shows they used to have in City Hall. It was rabbits and pigeons and different sort of birds. My father and my brother were both keen Fur and Feather enthusiasts, and they used to participate, especially father, he won numerous cups and prizes. We lived in St.Clements Terrace and he had a pigeon loft and hutches in the garden where he used to keep and feed his rabbits and pigeons. He had the British gold shield for his Dutch black and white rabbit.
Memories of the Cinema
There were 3 cinemas in Truro when I was a youngster, the Plaza, the Regent, which was in the City Hall, and the Palace. I grew up on St.Clements Terrace, and there would be 4 or 5 of us around the same age who would congregate, deciding which one to go to, depending what was showing. I can remember going into the Regent Cinema, on a Saturday morning, the matinees and seeing the usual films and having an ice cream. In those days it used to be two films, the one they showed first was the B film and then you had an interval with the adverts, and then the main film would be the second one. And the old Pearl and Dean adverts. Then we’d usually all come back and play football in the afternoon. That was I suppose just before the end of the war and just after the war.
Memories of the New Years Eve Dance
One of the highlights of the year was the New Years Eve dance at City Hall, when you had a nice orchestra and loads of people. We wore whatever was the fashion of the day I suppose… drainpipes and long jackets.
Memories of Queen
Queen, it was their first venue. The drummer from Queen, from what I gather, his mother lived in Truro, he was a Truronion, and she arranged for them to perform in the City Hall.
Memories of a Royal Visit
Another memory whilst I was Maintenance Officer with Truro City Council, when my office was based in the City Hall from 1966 to 1974. The Council was informed that Prince Charles would be making a visit to Cornwall and that he would be meeting the City Mayor and other dignitaries.Adjacent to the Committee Room was a WC specifically for the use of the members. It was decided that in order of such an occasion a new WC pan be installed, also floor covering and for the room to be redecorated in case the Prince need to use the facilities. The work was duly carried out and the door kept locked until the visit. On the day of the visit, which went well, with lots of handshaking and the usual small talk, someone suggested that the WC be unlocked, however, there was a problem, as no one knew who had the key! Frantic searching failed to locate it. Fortunately, all turned out well, as the Prince didn’t need the facilities. Several days later the key was found in a desk drawer of a person whose identity was never revealed – I hasten to add it was not me!
Memories of Shows & Malteasers at the City Hall
As a teenager I had a box of Maltesers and just as the show started I dropped them and they went all over the floor making a noise with people helping to pick them up and the audience telling me to shush!
Memories of the Cinema, Carrots & Swedes at the City Hall
My husband when he was a child at the Regent cinema (which was the City Hall) was given chopped up swedes and carrot to eat instead of sweets as they were cheaper and they chomped them right through the show.
Memories of Working at the City Hall
My husband’s friend worked for the gas works cleaning out the filters and when he was at the Regent everyone knew when he was there because he smelled of gas!
Postcard Memories - Performing at the City Hall
I performed in Ballet shows for Falmouth and Truro at the City Hall. My first performance was at aged 4 in 1959. I played the squirrel in the pantomime ‘Snow White’.
Postcard Memories - The Rock Competition at the City Hall
I was a member of a 5 piece band who played on a Rock competition in 1967. In the same competition was Roger Taylor (Queen). I think he went on to do rather better than we did…
Postcard Memories - Family Memories at the City Hall
My memory is of Bert Biscoe taking me up to the Council Chamber and proudly showing me my great, great, great grandfather’s election address to the ‘People of Truro’ which he had hung on the wall.
Postcard Memories - Footsbarn's
Saw my first theatre at the Hall – Footsbarn in ‘Giant’. I was a very small boy and was transfixed and transported. I can still see the Giant 50 something years later in my minds eye and remember how much I laughed.
Postcard Memories - Favourite Memories of the City Hall
My favourite memories of City Hall are the dances in the Annex, the Ballet’s on stage, the Fatstock shows, the Police Ball, Operas, the Guides & Scouts Fair and the variety show ‘Bits and Pieces’.
Postcard Memories - Fatstock shows, Dinners & Concerts at the City Hall
I have memories of the Cornwall Young Farmers club’s Christmas dinner and dance in the 1960s. The Hall still had the pillars either side. Truro Fatstock shows. Brenda Wootton concert in the 1970s.
Postcard Memories - A Piano Recital
I remember coming as a child to hear my mother’s headmistress, Blanche Watkiss, play the piano at an elderly age, and she forgot her music halfway through! This was the 1950s or 60s. She was head at the boarding school in Newquay. Thelema – now Phelema. I remember the hall as very dark with deep seats, we were very small.
Postcard Memories - Favourite Memories of the City Hall & Hall for Cornwall
My favourite memories are of Mr Maker! Patrick Moore playing the Xylophone, The Levellers, Stomp! And Ballet Rambert.
Postcard Memories - Pirate FM Cornwall's Most Wanted
I remember trying to catch Pirate FM Cornwall’s most wanted in the foyer of the theatre! The flea markets in the barn downstairs. So many fantastic shows. The scenery for Chess was too large for the stage! I remember the great staff. I was a member for Priority Tickets.
Postcard Memories - Resident Pigeons
Before it was a theatre, Carride Council were responsible for the building and we remember that disused rooms upstairs had been taken over by flocks of pigeons! It must have been a dirty job cleaning it up!
Memories of the City Hall - TAODS
Joyce : when I joined TAODS there as a waiting list to be a dancer. They only had 12 dancers and you had to be over 16. I was 15 when I joined and had just turned 16 when the show was staged in September. We loved performing in City Hall. Our shows were very popular, especially our plays and the carolaire where there was always a great atmosphere. We also used it for other events – one year we were staging Carousel and held an Autumn Fair in the Hall . We managed to get hold of a proper carousel and put it in the hall for the fair – we made a lot of money that year. Keith 2 : I joined TAODS because I wanted to chat up Joyce who was already a member there. Keith 2 : the guttering was inside the back of the building. When it rained you could hear the water running along back stage. There was also a metal bar at the top of the stage area to keep the pigeons out – they made a lot of noise and you could hear them when the performances were taking place. Chris : there was always dancing at City Hall – there was a different band every Saturday night and famous people like Victor Sylvester came to Truro. Joyce : there were also professional pantomimes at City Hall – one year Alan Gale staged a panto. Keith 2 : when I was stage manager I had a crew of about 9 or 10 people . They were a wonderful team. We sometimes had up to 22 back cloths for a show which had to be changed. We built a gantry and had women up there who would lower down the cloths. It was a hectic time but a great time. Keith 1 : there was a corridor at the back of the stage which had a cast iron stair case. When I was the call boy I used to go down the stairs whistling and singing to let people know I was coming as it was a very popular place for a quick snog.
Memories of City Hall Annex - TAODS
Keith 1 : the annexe was used a lot for different things, including rehearsals for the main shows. One Saturday evening we had a singing rehearsal in the annexe. There had been a caged bird show in building next door and the birds tried to join n the singing.
Chris : it used to be used for teas for the cast between the matinees and the main evening show. On the last night everyone on the stage would be presented with a gift and during that day families would be coming in with presents which were stored in the annexe until after the final performance had ended.
Keith 1 : we also entertained it to entertain other societies from across Cornwall. We also went to other places.
Keith 2 : when you had a show which was very popular you would open up the annexe as well – there was restricted views but it let more people in.
Joyce : there was a proper bar in the annexe
Memories of Cecil Gill -TAODS
Joyce : My father Cecil Gill , known as “Cec’, did the sound for all TAODS productions for more than 50 years. He owned an electrical shop in Pydar Street and as well as doing the sound for TAODS, also provided the sound for key events in Truro, such as the Mayor Making and the Fatstock shows via his van with speakers on the top.
Keith 1 : Back then health and safety was not thought off and I remember having to climb up a ladder to the beam at the top of the stage and then having to shuffle on my bottom along the beam dragging electrical cables behind me while Cec was shouting instructions from below. Cec also used to go to the City Hall the night before ticket went on sale to supervise the people who were camping out.
Memories of Queueing for Tickets - TAODS
Joyce : Ann and Jill always used to camp out in front of the hall overnight before a show so they would first in the queue to buy them. Keith 1 : eventually more people started queuing overnight and one day there was a big queue with dozens of people camping out to get the best tickets. It was a really rough night with wind and rain and they were all getting wet, cold and miserable when the caretaker opened up one of the dressing rooms so they could sleep inside.
Memories of Past Shows - TAODS
Keith 1 : I remember Joyce and Chris taking part in a performance of Kismet. Along with another girl they were the “three princesses” and came out of baskets and did a dance on the stage. Joyce – as we were all dressed in the same way the only way people could tell us apart was because “ I was the only one who had boobs”. Chris : we did Seven Brides for Seven Brothers – that was a real wow – one of the best shows we ever did. Joyce : we had professional artists such as make up artist Jules Martin and musicians come to help with the shows. We had our own stewards and front of house people, people who did the wardrobes and worked back stage and a social committee who used to sell the programmes – the women always wore long dresses and the men wore dress suits. The shows were opened by the Mayor Keith 1 : It was always recognised that Truro had high standards – when we did Fiddler on the Roof one of the audience said “ I saw the original in London and this knocks it into a cocked hat” Keith 2 : a man called Les painted the flat for us – he was amazing. One time he did a back cloth of Truro Cathedral which became fluorescent when it was flooded with UV lighting – that got a round of applause in the middle of the show. Ros : I loved the carolaires – they were such happy times. Bill White played while the audience was coming in. Chris : we had some wonderful MD’s – Harry Jordon, known as the ‘lady chaser’, and Hubert who used to banter with a Truro lawyer. They had great rapport with the audience.
Memories of Last Night Antics - TAODS
Keith 2 : We never did anything to damage the show but we did have some fun on the last night At the end of our production of the Sound of Music Johnny Moon went up the mountain with the children. It was an amazing sight. On the last night we put stage weights into his bag to make it heavier. On another night we were doing a plan in which people had to bring a trunk onto the stage. It was usually empty but on the last night we filled it with concrete blocks and other items from below the stage. Keith 1 : during the performance of the Vagabond King the rogue has to run away and jump into a vat of red wine. On the last night the inside of the barrel was lined with holly – he was wearing tights and a short tunic and the language was interesting. Chris : on one last night Anne was due to be presented with a plate of food during the play – on the last night someone got two pigs eye from the butchers and put them with the food on the plate. When she lifted the lid off the plate she had to try not to laugh. Joyce : we were a family – back stage / front of house – we were all a family.
Memories of Moving to Redannick Theatre - TAODS
Keith 2 : we miss the City Hall – we had been told that the Hall For Cornwall would be a hall for the whole of Cornwall – but amateur societies cannot afford to use it. We have lost out . Redannick Theatre is much smaller which means we cannot put on the same kind of shows it is not the same ….. we had some wonderful years and made lots of money for charity. Joyce : the shows were the highlight of our year and the highlight of the audience’s years – they were happy days and we miss them. The society has gone down to a small number – we have lost our young people. We did everything to the best of our ability – and it is a great shame.
Memories of Courting at City Hall
I was sixteen in 1958. It was a good time to be sixteen. I was a telephonist for BT and we held our annual dances in City Hall. There were crowds of young people and we danced the night away, the lot of us. They decked the whole place out with balloons and paper decorations and laid chairs down both sides of the hall. The girls would come in and take a seat and if you were lucky, a handsome man would come over and ask you to dance. If it was someone you weren’t keen on, all of a sudden you’d look down at the floor and get very interested in your shoes. It was grand being asked to dance, but the best part of the evening was the ‘ladies’ excuse me’, which gave you the chance of a lifetime. You could tap any man on the shoulder, even if he was dancing with someone else and ask him to dance. There was no point in being a wallflower, you had to grab the opportunity while you had it. ‘Ladies and gentlemen, take your places for a quickstep.’ They had a dance band, The Clavitones, who played all sorts, from waltzes, military two-step to the Gay Gordons and the hokey cokey. Bob Williams, the chemist, used to play saxaphone with them. The slow dances were my favourite, though. You’d eye someone across the room and wink at them and they’d come over and you’d dance with their arm around you and it felt wonderful. Everyone got a bit more forward as the evening went on. At some point you might go outside with them for a kiss and a cuddle. The dances finished about ten thirty. It was nothing like going home at two in the morning like you might do today. It was a lot tamer than that. If you met someone and they wanted to take you home, you’d wonder if they would hold your hands or your arm might brush their arm, which was everything. If it went really well, you might get a kiss at the gate. Of course, I lived with my parents back then and my dad would wait up until I got back. We had a dog and he’d use the dog as an excuse to stay out in the garden when he was expecting me back, which was his way of saying ‘Come on in now, Josie’. I remember at one dance this gorgeous man came in through the door of City Hall and later in the evening, when he asked me if I wanted to dance, I said ‘do I?’ Our first dance was a quickstep. He was tall, and handsome too. We courted for three years before I married him. We went to lots of dances at City Hall in that time, and to the cinema too at The Regent. I remember he took me to see The Summer Place – even now when I hear the songs it takes me right back there. I remember being in there in the dark of the cinema and his knee touched mine – talk about the vapours. We married at Chasewater and had a reception in the village, bought a cottage at Greenbottom and we had our twins there twelve months later. When you’ve had a good marriage and you met your man at a dance, you’ve had what lots of people would love to have. You can’t imagine anything better. But that’s me, I’m an old romantic.
Memories of The City Hall & Hall for Cornwall - The Heart of Things
Before I moved down to Cornwall in 1964, I lived in Honor Oak in London. From the road I lived on, which was on a main bus route, we could see Big Ben - we were right in the heart of things – you could get anything you liked any time you liked. After I left school, I worked at Westminster for a while and then at Worth’s Fashion House. When my husband got a job teaching science at Truro School, we moved to Penelewey, which was - at the time - just a handful of houses, even fewer than there are now. Where we’d have busses running all day in Honor Oak, there was one bus a day now and I thought ‘what one earth have I come to?’ My husband died thirty years ago now and it was after he died that I heard about this place called Hall for Cornwall. It was a new thing for me. It was close and it was affordable. I discovered something there that grabbed me by the heart. One year I went to see something there every week – marine bands, plays, opera, comedy, dancing – anything they had on. The man on the security desk said to me he was thinking about calling Securicor for me, I’d bought that many tickets, and they told me by the end of the year, they thought I’d pretty much bought Row F! I remember seeing one comedy group which was the funniest thing I’ve ever seen in my life. I laughed so hard it was painful and the man sitting next to me couldn’t stay in his chair he was laughing so much. I remember thinking I need a break from this. It’s strange, I’ve forgotten what they were called now, but I’ll never forget laughing that hard, not ever. It was a change from life, seeing something so different. I was able to feel I was supporting people who were doing creative things while I was doing it. A special place it is, right in the heart of things.
Memories of Billy Onions
Billy Onions had a horse that he used for one purpose and one purpose only and every market day Billy Onions led his horse down Mitchell Hill and tied him to a lamppost smack in the centre of town, right by City Hall. Why’s Billy Onions bring a horse into town when he in’t got nothing to sell? Well, I’ll tell you. That horse’d wait, patient as Job and sometimes a child from the market would take pity on him, bring him out a carrot or two, something to pass the time, until Billy Onions emerged from out back of the Red Lion at the last light of the day. Now the Red Lion to City Hall was just a stagger and a belch and Billy Onions could manage that right enough. He’d pet the horse on the nose, untie him from the lamppost and the horse’d lead him right home.
Memories of The First Dance
My husband used to click his heels together when he asked you to dance. He wore spare collars and his shoes always shone and he was handsome as the day was long. I first met him at the Red Lion Hotel at the bottom of Lemon Street. If you had money you’d drink out front, and if you were one of the common people you’d drink out the back, sitting on the barrels – that’s where we’d go. A lot of people didn’t have money in those days, but we had comradeship and we enjoyed that. Everybody was in the same boat. He didn’t know anyone at that time, being German, and he went to the Red Lion to meet people, and though I’d seen him there a couple of times I didn’t know him at all. He asked me if I’d like to go to the City Hall for a dance. I was about eighteen or nineteen, but I told him I’d have to ask my mum. Anyway, I went to a dance with him and it went on from there. He’d gone into the German army at eighteen and he was two years interred on Guernsey before they moved him over to Cornwall. He came over on the boat and he lived in these Nissen Huts up by the hospital and from there they were put out to work on farms. They were taken out in lorries to the different farms and he was taken out to a farm at Comprignay Hill. After the war, he stayed on and moved into a tied cottage behind the big house. There were lions on the gateposts and it was a grand place but when I saw his rooms I thought it was terrible, up these rickety steps and he was living above where the stables used to be. All up one end was his bed and there wasn’t much else there aside from that. When we decided to marry, we had to write to Germany just so they could be sure he had never been married before. We had four sons. There’s not a thing I regret about it. We didn’t have much but we enjoyed what we had, and whenever he asked me to dance with him, he’d click his heels together and it took me right back to when I met first him and that first dance.
Memories of 'Bits & Pieces'
I always liked singing when I was young. I used to sing in school at playtime and we had little shows outside the back of our house, by the garage, put a dress on and act and stuff – it was our own entertainment. I used to love tap dancing, but you had to pay for the lessons and we could never have afforded them. We just didn’t have the money for it and those things were out of reach for us. I wanted to be in a dramatic show, but I always felt they were too posh for me, so I never even tried for one. There was one show – Bits and Pieces it was called - there was a comedian and singers, dancing, different things on. There was a woman who was supposed to sing, but she was taken ill and they said, well could you do it, Joan? I said, I don’t know but I’ll give it a go. I remember having a photograph taken of me in a lovely dress – it was green, a satin dress. I was a poor singer though. In the end I sang ‘Blue Moon’ first and then I sang that old Irish song ‘I’ll Take You Home Again, Kathleen’. I’d never been on the stage before and they threw me right in at the deep end. I couldn’t run fast enough. I stuck it out though. Oh, I will take you back, Kathleen To where your heart will feel no pain And when the fields are fresh and green I'll take you to your home again!
Memories From The Buyer & Seller of Unconsidered Trifles
Entertainment doesn’t just happen on the stage, you know. Far from it. I’d led a sheltered life until I became a buyer and seller of unconsidered trifles. I started life as a reluctant farmer on my father’s farm. Showed my sheep at the Fat Stock show at City Hall, led them up the ramp they put up over the staircases, though I never went to see any of the entertainment there. When he retired, my father passed the farm to me and when I discovered the flea market I passed it on to my son. I never looked back. You could find anything at the flea market. Anything. People used to describe it as like going into a magic cave. They came from all over; a temporary community gathered for just this one thing. The atmosphere in there was something else. At its height there were seventy stalls selling everything from bric-a-brac to fine art, each one falling over the other, floor to ceiling with the world’s unconsidered trifles. For us it started as a way of getting rid of the old rubbish from our house and ended up with us running a regular stall. It was mostly woodworking tools we sold – beautiful things they were too, brass, ebony, rosewood. They were stamped in capitals with the names of the makers and we’d look out for the names that sold well. NORRIS made woodworking planes and they were always in demand. I knew nothing about this when I started, mind. This was long before the time of upcycling, before vintage became a buzz word, and we made it up as we went along. In fact, I used to make antiques in my garage by the box-load. I think my wife’s fingernails are still full of Brasso from polishing up lamps even now, and this was forty years back, mind when Lemon Quay was still a carpark, Marks and Spencer a garage and Wetherspoons the offices for The West Briton. The early days were the best. The buzz of knowing that the things we sold could end up anywhere in the world, the people we met who came from all over just for the flea market. It opened my eyes to life beyond Truro and for entertainment value, there was noting like it.
Karen Pirie Podcast Episode 1: Debbie McCrory
The first podcast in a micro-series, commissioned by Hall For Cornwall with journalist Karen Pirie. In the first episode, hear from BBC Radio Cornwall DJ and former Front Of House Manager Debbie McCrory. Listen to her tales of scandal, intrigue and backstage gossip with a whole host of stars who have graced Hall For Cornwall's stage over the years. Series recorded pre-Covid.
Karen Pirie Podcast Episode 2: Ed Rowe, Simon Harvey & Richard Healey
The second podcast in a micro-series, commissioned by Hall For Cornwall with journalist Karen Pirie. In the second episode, hear from an impressive trio who frequently work together at Hall For Cornwall. Actor Ed Rowe, Director Simon Harvey and musical director Richard Healey. Hear their discussion of their hopes for the future of the theatre, what they enjoy about working together and what Cornwall can offer by way of support for the creative industries. Series recorded pre-Covid.
Karen Pirie Podcast Episode 3: Julien Boast & Sue Ferguson
The third podcast in a micro-series, commissioned by Hall For Cornwall with journalist Karen Pirie. In the third episode, Karen interviews Hall For Cornwall CEO Julien Boast and theatre advocate and loyal friend of the theatre, Sue Ferguson. Hear their thoughts on the transformation of the hall and exciting plans for the future. Series recorded pre-Covid.
Summer Show handbill, City Hall
A selection of handbills pasted up on the walls backstage in the building at different times. The handbills, posters and cast lists were pasted on top of each other and left to fade away as new posters were added. Each poster shows changes in acts booked to perform at the hall, the changing tastes of the public and indeed the changing name of the building. It is alternately named as City Hall and its earlier name, the Regent Theatre within the posters. In-house bands such as the City Hall Trio are also named.
Stage Set at City Hall
City Hall and Hall For Cornwall are a receiving house. This means that they programme in touring shows and acts who largely bring their own stage sets, props and costumes, leaving lighting, sound and projections to be provided by the hall's equipment.
Fashion Show at City Hall
Fashion shows were held regularly in the 1960s- 1980s at City Hall. These were organised by external companies who invited local clothes businesses to display clothing selections from the forthcoming seasonal fashions. Shows were curated seasonally and often involved invitations to model for local young residents of Truro.
Keeping Truro's Clock Ticking
City Hall's Clock I
City Hall's Clock II
Weights were used at the Stannary Courts (there were four Stannary Towns in Cornwall, in Truro, Helston, Launceston and Lostwithiel). The weights would be used to ascertain the weight and therefore the value of the tin brought to the courts from the tin mines within each town's district. Once the tin had been weight and valued, taxs and coinage would be paid at the local Coinage Hall and the tin would receive the stamp of the Stannary town. This weight case was manufactured in London by De Grave Short & Co Ltd. The case bears the inscription ' Manufacturers of Bullion, Assay and Chemical Balances, Scales, Weights & Measures.'
Decorative Element of loft room at City Hall I
Painted decorative details on the walls of loft rooms inside City Hall, directly beneath the clocktower and above the Council Chambers. No longer in use, these rooms illustrate the tastes of the period when it came to furnishing the walls of a civic building and employ a trompe l'oeil or stencilled detail. These decorative details are the last clue as to the feel of the rooms prior to the fire of 1914 which destroyed the clock tower. These rooms were significantly more simple in decorative style than the rooms on lower floors (decorated in 1924-1927) which housed the mayoral chamber and courts. These rooms, on public display on a more regular basis, feature mouldings, ceiling roses and a far grander decorative scheme.
Decorative Element of loft room at City Hall II
Weights Case Detail
Detail from inside the weight case (ref HFC:2020:158) This weight case was manufactured in London by De Grave Short & Co Ltd. The case bears the inscription ' Manufacturers of Bullion, Assay and Chemical Balances, Scales, Weights & Measures.'
Damage to City Hall's roof and clock tower
During the fire at City Hall, a number of the municipal rooms were destroyed as well as a substantial collection of artwork belonging to the council. The efforts of the volunteer fire brigade meant that there were not greater losses sustained to property in the aftermath of the fire.
Roof From South Side
The Sensational Hypnotist
One of the earliest handbills from a documented performance at City Hall, this partly destroyed poster from 1955 details a run of performances spread across six days from John Brendan the 'sensational' hypnotist.
This handbill sat in a loft for many years inside the owner's attic. Evidence to suggest that it met its partial demise courtesy of a small rodent is clear in the bottom right hand corner of the handbill! This destruction obscures a section of type, as well as information regarding which company printed the handbill.
Souvenir programme cover for Ruddigore at City Hall
A Gilbert and Sullivan collaboration, Ruddigore, or "The Witch's Curse", is set in the fishing village of Rederring in Cornwall and tells the story of the cursed Baronet brothers who must commit a crime every day to avoid a painful death. The comic opera ran for 288 performances at the Savoy Theatre in 1887 before eventually being revived in 1920 to critical acclaim. Although initially regarded as a failure by critics, the opera soon proved to be a success after running for 8 consecutive months and amassing a total of £7,000. Directed by Mr. Gordon Hall, the opera was performed at City Hall by the T.A.O.D.S between the 19th and 23rd of January 1926.
A scene from Vagabond King 1966 (1)
The T.A.O.D.S produced a prolific amount of muscials, operas and stage shows at City Hall Truro throughout the 20th century. Their 1966 performance of the Vagabond King operetta was produced by Mavis Ward, who produced more than sixteen of T.A.O.D.S productions, and G. Trehane Collins as musical director.
Illustrated souvenir programme cover for Call Me Madam at City Hall Truro
Call Me Madam was performed by TAODS at City Hall Truro in 1972. This souvenir programme features an illustration of the lead character Mrs. Sally Adams and the distinctive logo of the three spires of Truro Cathedral. The American flag on the cover is reference to the fact that the musical is set in 1950s America and satires its political landscape and foreign policy affairs. The programme also celebrates the diamond jubilee of TAODS who formed in 1912.
Calamity Jane Poster
The T.A.O.D.S performance of Calamity Jane ran between the 10th and the 15th of November, 1975. It was produced and choreographed by Debbie Underwood and featured Harry Jordan as musical director and Elizabeth Willis as ballet mistress. The poster showcases the theatre and design trends of the 1970s, featuring striking coloured text to convey the title of the musical, the venue and prices which appear in contrast with the bolder black capitalised text that's used to advertise the society and performance dates.
Illustrated souvenir programme cover for Bless the Bride, 1983
A Vivian Ellis and A.P. Herbert muscial, Bless the Bride tells the story of an English girl who marries a French actor in which she has been led to believe has been killed in action during the Franco Prussian War. The musical was performed by the TAODS at City Hall Truro in November 1983. This programme cover features an illustration of a married couple with an accompanying decorative border and bold modern text.
Afternoon tea in the City Hall annexe (1)
Many different functions were staged in the annexe of City Hall. This photograph captures the afternoon tea which was held for the TAODS during their production of Music Man at City Hall in 1985.
Afternoon tea in the City Hall annexe (2)
Many different functions were staged in the annexe of City Hall. This photograph captures the afternoon tea which was held for the TAODS during their production of Music Man at City Hall in 1985.
Programme cover for 42nd Street at City Hall Truro
42nd Street is a musical based on the 1930s novel by Bradford Ropes and the subsequent film adaptation of the same era. The show centres on the efforts of a famed director to successfully mount an extravagent stage production during the worse years of the Great Depression. The programme cover for the 1995 TAODS production of the musical features the distinctive cathedral inspired logo of the society along with bold and striking text to convey the name, place and time of performance.
The Truro Amateur Operatic & Dramatic Society (1)
This photograph captures the entire Truro Amateur Operatic & Dramatic Society during the production of 42nd Street at City Hall Truro in 1995. The production ran between the 6th and 11th of November and was the Cornish premiere of the musical.
The Truro Amateur Operatic & Dramatic Society (2)
This photograph captures the entire cast from the Truro Amateur Operatic & Dramatic Society production of 42nd Street at City Hall Truro in 1995. The production ran between the 6th and 11th of November and was the Cornish premiere of the musical.
Poster advertising Camelot at City Hall
Camelot was performed by the TAODS at City Hall Truro between the 1st and 6th of November, 1993. It was co-directed by Joan and John Boreham who were accompanied by Hubert Julian as musical director. In contrast to earlier advertisements for TAODS productions, this poster contains less detailed text in favour of a larger title and illustration. The T.A.O.D.S iconic logo inspired by the spires of Truro Cathedral also features.
Poster advertising Seven Brides for Seven Brothers at City Hall
Advertising a performance of Seven Brides for Seven Brothers at City Hall, this poster is an interesting example of the changes in design trends throughout the history of TAODS performances. Illustrations, eye catching colour and modern fonts contrast with earlier production posters which had simpler designs.
Poster advertising Showboat at City Hall
Advertising the TAODS performance of Showboat at City Hall in November 1992, this poster is an interesting example of the progression in theatre design that had resulted in sophisticated and modern advertisements by the end of the century.
TAODS Summer Fair (1)
As a registered charity since 1969, the Truro Amateur Operatic and Dramatic Society rely on fundraising to finance the society and the events and performances they produce. One such fundraising inititative was the holding of summer fairs at City Hall which included raffles, tombolas and fair ground style games.
Afternoon tea in the Mayors parlour, c. 2007
This is a photograph of afternoon tea being held in the Mayors parlour at Hall for Cornwall during the 2007 productions of the Witches of Eastwick. The Boscawen Street side of City Hall not only houses the Mayors parlour but is also home to Truro City Council and Cornwall’s Coroners Court.
A scene from The Busy Body, 1967
One of Susanna Centlivre's greatest successes, The Busy Body was written in 1709 and centres on two intertwining love plots. The T.A.O.D.S staged their own production of the play in 1967 at City Hall Truro. This photograph was taken during one of their performances of the show.
A scene from Doctor at Sea, 1965
Written by Ted Willis, Doctor at Sea is a farsical comedy in three acts. It was performed at City Hall Truro by the TAODS between the 10th and 13th of March, 1965 and was directed by John Knight. This photograph was taken during a performance of the play.
Vera Ware was the Truro Amateur Operatic & Dramatic Society's ballet mistress who not only choreographed performances but also, on occassion, produced them too. Vera had also owned her own dance school at number 3 River Street during the 1930s, where she taught 'all branches of dancing.'
A scene from Goodnight Mrs. Puffin, 1966
Written by Arthur Lovegrove, the play follows the story of the Fordyces family and the events that unravel after Mrs. Puffin, a complete stranger, walks into their lives with predictions of the future. This image is a photograph that was taken of the TAODS production of they play at City Hall in March 1966.
Ticket stub for Goodnight Mrs. Puffin
Written by Arthur Lovegrove, the play follows the story of the Fordyces family and the events that unravel after Mrs. Puffin, a complete stranger, walks into their lives with predictions of the future.
City Hall 1995
City Hall is a grade II listed building that was completed in 1846. Built to house the headquarters of the local council, the north end of the complex accommodated the municipal buildings, which included a courtroom and a council chamber, while the south end accommodated a market hall. The clocktower was installed on the Boscawen Street frontage in 1858 and in 1877, when Truro became a city, the complex was renamed Truro City Hall.
Inside City Hall 1995 (1)
Inside City Hall 1995 (2)
Inside City Hall 1995 (3)
Inside City Hall 1995(4)
City Hall backstage 1995 (1)
This photograph captures the lighting control gantry where the backstage crew controlled the stage lighting for productions and performances at City Hall. At this time, plans were in place to develop Hall for Cornwall with plans to greatly enhance the facilities and technical equipment for staff working at the hall.
City Hall backstage 1995 (2)
The T.A.O.D.S had their own backstage crew as well as actors, producers and musical directors. This photograph captures the props area at City Hall where the T.A.O.D.S backstage crew would store the props for their productions.
City Hall backstage 1995 (3)
The TAODS had their own backstage crew as well as actors, producers and musical directors. This photograph captures the area where the backstage crew would operate.
City Hall hall stage
This photo shows an interesting perspective on the old City Hall at the beginning of the 1990s. From the very back of the hall, the old projection room was used to light concerts, plays and project imagery during its time as a cinema in the early 20th century.
The old projection room at City Hall
City Hall is a grade II listed building that was completed in 1846. Built to house the headquarters of the local council, the north end of the complex accommodated the municipal buildings, which included a courtroom and a council chamber, while the south end accommodated a market hall. In the early 20th century, civic leaders decided to make the market hall available for public use. In 1907, it operated as a skating rink and then as a cinema in 1912. In 1925, the market hall was remodelled as a theatre with a stage after a fire had gutted the building in 1914. The projection room, seen here in the early 1990s, would initially have been used during City Hall's time as a cinema. The space was alternatively used to store lighting equipment and project from during gigs and concerts in the 1950s - 1990s.
Old posters from past productions at the Regent Theatre (1)
Several old posters of past performances at City Hall were discovered during the first Hall for Cornwall build between 1995-97. However, due to being firmly glued onto the wall, they were unfortunately not able to be preserved. This poster was created by G & M Organ Theatrical Printers who regularly created theatre posters for City Hall in the 1950s - 1960s. Alan Kitching, the typographer and graphic artist who has created our Performance Timeline bought the entirety of the Wrington Press when G & M Organ closed their business in the mid-1990s. This poster is a good example of the hierachy of type used to denote headline acts as well as less well known support acts.
Old posters from past productions at the Regent Theatre (2)
Several old posters of past performances at City Hall were discovered during the first Hall for Cornwall build between 1995-97. However, due to being firmly glued onto the wall, they were unfortunately not able to be preserved. These posters are a good example of changing fashions with regards to typography and design. Visible on the right hand side is a pasted up image used to advertise Babes in the Wood, a classic pantomime popular in the early- mid 20th Century. These images would be ordered from brochures produced annually by theatrical printers like G & M Organ. Theatres would receive the image and then set type around it for the specific dates of their performance.
Old posters from past productions at the Regent Theatre (3)
Several old posters of past performances at City Hall were discovered during the first Hall for Cornwall build between 1995-97. However, due to being firmly glued onto the wall, they were unfortunately not able to be preserved.
Mr and Mrs Arbon and the Cornwall Youth Orchestra
Dennis Arbon was an unwavering supporter and eventual trustee of Hall for Cornwall. His relationship with HfC began in the 1990s when he stepped in to make considerable financial donations to the theatre, its associated organisations and fundraising campaigns. He was then appointed to the venue's board in the late 1990’s and served for four years as Chair, helping in the process to secure the future of the theatre during a period of significant financial difficulty. Dennis was awarded an MBE for his outstanding services and philanthropic contributions to the arts and the community in Cornwall in 2013.
Filling in Back Quay (1)
The River Kenwyn ran through both Back Quay and Lemon Quay in the centre of Truro until the 1920s. Running immediately behind City Hall, the river proved a useful vantage point for the recievership of goods that arrived and departed on the boats which docked at the quays during the 19th century. The river was eventually covered over between 1923-1926 as part of the process of 'filling in' Back Quay. In the mid-20th century, the piazza was used alternately as a car park for a car dealership as well as a public car park during the 1980s-1990s. In the 1990s council chose to utilise the open space as a civic meeting spot for fairs, cattle markets and festivals.
Filling in Back Quay (2)
The River Kenwyn ran through both Back Quay and Lemon Quay in the centre of Truro until the 1920s. Running immediately behind City Hall, the river proved a useful vantage point for the recievership of goods that arrived and departed on the boats which docked at the quays during the 19th century. The river was eventually covered over in the 1920s as part of the process of 'filling in' Back Quay.
Back Quay c. 1995-97
In 1995, enough funds had finally been raised to begin the refurbishment of City Hall. This photograph shows the River Kenwyn as it's sent into it's cover underneath Back Quay. Until the 1920s, the River Kenwyn ran through both Back Quay and Lemon Quay until the river was covered over as part of the process of 'filling in' Back Quay. Also visible in the background are the cranes operating on the refurbishment of City Hall prior to its opening as Hall for Cornwall in 1997.
Refurbishment of City Hall
In 1995, enough funds had finally been raised to begin the refurbishment of City Hall. This photograph, as taken from Back Quay, exhibits the front exterior of City Hall during the refurbishment process. Also visible is the neighbouring exterior of the Market Inn facade. A crane lifts in a key part of the steel structure which formed the balcony seating in the auditorium. The crane was able to life in key pieces of new infrastructure through the roofspace which was completely refurbished above the auditorium during this process.
Hall for Cornwall, 1998
After undergoing major refurbishment in the mid 1990s, a large part of City Hall reopended as Hall for Cornwall in 1997. This photograph is the view of the newly refurbished exterior of the hall from Boscawen Street, above which sits the council offices. Visible in the photo is the Tourist Information office which was housed within the arches of City Hall adjacent to the space occupied by flea markets.
City Hall refurbishment
Husa at Hall for Cornwall is a co-working space for Cornish creatives, entrepreneurs, social enterprises, freelancers and small businesses that's situated in the south wing of the building. This photograph was taken during the refurbishments of City Hall in the mid 1990s and features the space above what would eventually become the Husa space.
Chris Warner with Hall for Cornwall Fundraising Banner
Ben Luxon, along with Chris Warner (pictured) and Sarah Smith played an instrumental part in the community campaign to fundraise and eventually bring about the reopening of Hall For Cornwall in 1997. Visible in the background of this photo was a sign detailing how much money had been raised as part of this initial campaign.
Benjamin Luxon was the honorary president of the Music Theatre Kernow during the 1990s. Before this, he had enjoyed a successful career as a baritone and had toured the world as an equally renowned recitalist, concert, opera and folk singer. In the late 1980s, Ben bought City Hall's 125 year lease for £1.00 from Carrick District Council at a point when its physical decline was reaching the point of no return. The plan was to then return the complex to a performance venue by launching a series of high profile, community led campaigns to secure funding for the renovations.
Ann Jennings and Chris Warner
Pictured in this photograph with City Hall visible in the background is Ann Jennings who ran the flea markets at City Hall, HfC's director Chris Warner and an unidentified visitor to the hall. The number they are pictured holding is The Hall for Cornwall Trust charity number.
A music event at City Hall (1)
In the early 20th century, civic leaders decided to make City Hall's market hall available for public use. Since then, the Hall has operated as an extremely flexible and versatile arts, performance and events venue and has held many a function during its 100 year history as a public space. This photograph is from a music event which was held at the Hall in the period 1993-94. Taken from the back of the theatre space, it showcases the interior architecture of the Hall's vaulted roof on Doric columns whilst also conveying the electric atmosphere of the packed space.
I am the heaviest bull #1
As part of our Revealing City Hall heritage project, the Arts Development team worked with local primary and secondary schools, encouraging them to be heritage detectives and explore Hall for Cornwall's heritage through creative writing. These videos are creative responses to stories about Truro’s Fatstock shows, where farmers would show off their prize cattle. The poems take inspiration from “The Slithermonchowchuck” by Aoife Mannix. This poem is “I am the Heaviest Bull” and was written by year 5 students.
I am the heaviest bull #2
I am the heaviest bull #3
I am the heaviest bull #4
I am the heaviest bull #5
I am the heaviest bull #6
Topping Out Ceremony
The topping out ceremony is a traditional gathering to celebrate the completion (or nearing completion!) of roof works on a substantial building project. The ceremony took place shortly before the theatre opened and marked the end of a busy period of renovation. Visible in the background are the spires of Truro Cathedral.