The Ripley Advertiser’s report of the opening ceremony on Saturday, March 5, 1881, says the leading families of Ripley were “well represented, the shops being closed and business operations suspended” with upwards of 150 guests feasting on tongue and rabbit pies, pork and pidgeon patties, mutton cutlets and currant cakes, and being entertained with piano recitals and songs by the Sutton Glee Singers.
A Mr Bembridge is reported as saying: “I think most of our towns people either are, or will be by and by, be glad we have such a noble edifice in our midst”. He did also note the opposition of local people who objected to paying higher rates.
Jonathan, who lives in Marehay and works as a supply teacher, said: “They were so proud of it and wanted statues of famous people there like Benjamin Outram and William Jessop - major industrial icons. I think a town hall should be a celebration of the town’s heroes. You could have added people like Barnes Wallis. It would have been a statement of pride. The town hall is the main landmark in Ripley. It’s the first thing that comes to mind when you think of the town.”
Jonathan has helped supply historical information and old photographs to support Juliette Blake’s submission. An earlier attempt to get the old police station in Ripley listed was unsuccessful, but this time, she says, “I am taking no chances! I have absolutely bombarded English Heritage with loads of information!
“My big concern is that someone could go in there and turn it into apartments. Council leader Stuart Bradfield is saying the facade should be preserved, but a lot of people are passionate about the interior – particularly people who have been married there. To me it belongs to the people of Ripley.”
They now plan to found a civic society to protect Ripley’s heritage.