The story of how Rugby's town hall almost got a humungous clock tower - and how it ticked off residents

We appear to love our clocks - but in the 1930s the people of Rugby thought one horological proposal was a step too far

Thursday, 29th April 2021, 4:24 pm
The original plan for the town hall would have been quite a sight. Source: The Advertiser's archives.

Our town centre is somewhat of a horological paradise, with the tower at St Andrew's, the Clock Tower at the top of North Street and the Hare and Tortoise clock in the shopping centre - the latter sadly removed by developers.

But did you know the original plans for Rugby s town hall included a huge tower with, you guessed it - a clock.

The town hall was officially opened by The Queen Mother on July 5 1961.

The later plan, approved in 1938, looks far more like what was eventually built decades later. Source: The Advertiser's archives.

She travelled to the town by helicopter and received such a warm welcome that she later wrote a letter to our town, published in the Advertiser, to thank residents.

Now, and at the time, the town hall was considered a sensible, sober development, with its neo-Georgian wings and stone columns even accused of being 'architecturally dead' by late architectural historian Nikolaus Pevsner.

But, sensible and ordinary as it might appear, it traces its routes from plans made in the 1930s, which originally included a huge tower.

At the time Rugby council was housed in 'The Lawn', the early 18th century villa which sits to the back of the current town hall.

But the council quickly recognised the need for more space, and plans for drawn up for a new town hall on the site.

This original plan, featuring the humungous tower, would have cost £108,419 in 1937 - the equivalent of £7.5m today.

It was approved by committee in July 1937, but the huge cost to the public purse drew widespread criticism - so the plans were amended.

And then the new plan, outlining essentially what would become to the town hall, was approved in April 1938.

This new plan was set to cost £68,125 - or £4.75m in today's money.

Rugby council appeared cautious of the chances of impending war - with provision made for an air raid shelter in the cellar.

Ultimately, the Second World War and the economic aftermath would delay the start of construction until June 1959.

In those years, the Benn Hall was also added to the plans and was built at the same time as the town hall.