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Fenny Stratford Town Hall
From hosting gatherings of the Salvation Army in the late 19th century
Fenny Stratford Town Hall is now used as a bathroom centre.

Sunday Citizen March 18, 2001

General Booth’s praise for town

1880, Fenny Stratford's commercial prosperity had encouraged the building of a Town Hall, adjacent to the Swan Inn.

However, shortly afterwards the Fenny Stratford Town Hall Company Ltd went into voluntary liquidation and the building was then purchased by Barclays Bank, who employed some of the ground floor offices as accommodation, for their Fenny Stratford Branch Bank.

For the local population, outdoor entertainments could seasonally be provided by such events as the Bletchley Feast, where for a small fee the antics of 'a troupe of Soudanese Yelent Zulu Fire Kings' might be observed, not to mention 'the largest lady in the world' and an American midget.

Yet for indoor entertainments the Town Hall provided an ideal venue although perhaps in deference to the present political correctness, 'entertainment' might not be the best term applied to the various political meetings held in the hall, as it also held the early gatherings of the Salvation Army.

The latter held their meetings at the Town Hall until the construction of a purpose built barracks in Church Street, at the opening of which General Booth graciously pronounced that Fenny 'was a nice place'.

He also hoped that 'my coming here will cause some poor backslider to come here', and judging by some of the rowdies who turned up in later congregations, his wish was joyously fulfilled.

For the more established religion, in aid of a funds for a peal of bells to be hung in Saint Martin's Church, as a commemoration for Queen Victoria's Jubilee, in Fenny Stratford Town Hall the Walford family gave an entertainment of handbell ringing, an art in which they displayed considerable skill.

By their efforts a most useful sum was produced and eventually the new peal was opened on October 12, at the Harvest Thanksgiving service.

In fact the Walfords became popular performers at the hall and at Christmas, 1887, they excelled themselves, travelling especially back from the West of England.

Not only did Miss Eva Walford perform 'Star of Bethlehem', amongst other renditions but her sister bashed out 'I know that my redeemer liveth’ on no less than her 'Aquadigipsycharmonica', a collection of wine glasses, partly filled with water.

The whole family then gave of their best in an amusing little piece entitled 'The Gay Jolly Blacksmith', accompanied by a string band and an anvil. Matters were then brought to a close by the performance, for the very first time in Fenny Stratford, of the family's original Psychological Seance -'Mysteria'.

In later years it was proposed that the Town Hall could be used to accommodate the offices of the Bletchley Urban District Council but at the local enquiry the Local Government Inspector deemed the premises unsuitable.

In 1903 a purpose-built centre was con¬structed in Bletchley Road, instead.

As a bathroom and kitchen centre, today the building fulfils a need far removed from its earlier use but entertainments of a certain kind are still available to the local population by the provision, in a nearly premises, of an 'adult shop', whatever one of those may be!