4. Old Library and Mechanics Institute and 5. Old Town Hall

9 / 10 Brand Street, SG5 1HX

(left) The Old Library and Mechanics’ Institute. This 1860 purpose-built and Grade II listed building brought together Hitchin’s three independent libraries under one roof. These were the Quakers’ Library for Apprentices & Tradesmen, the 1835 Hitchin Working Man’s & Mechanics’ Institute and a public subscription library incorporating a small reading room and museum. The lettering “LIBRARY – MDCCCLX” is still clearly engraved in stone above the entrance. The library amalgamated with the County Library in 1926. The building has been converted to residential use.

(right) The Old Town Hall, dating from 1840, was built as a venue for public gatherings and committee meetings, previously held in the town’s inns. Another Grade II listed building, it was designed by London Architect Thomas Bellamy. The £2,400 construction cost was met by a private company of citizens set up for the purpose. By the end of the 19th century, the main assembly room was considered to be poorly ventilated, and magistrates withdrew its licence for performances due to inadequate exit arrangements. In 1901, the new Town Hall (now North Herts Museum across the road) replaced the old one. Following a period as a bar/night club, the building has now been converted to residential use.

Back to the Blue Plaque list