Witney Museum & Historical Society
Corn Exchange in the News
Quotes, comments & news reports concerning the closure of Witney Corn Exchange
© Copyright Witney Museum & Historical Society
Page last updated: Sept 18th 2013
Page first published: February 19th 2012
The Fate of Witney Corn Exchange?
In November 2011, the iconic and well loved Witney Corn Exchange was 'closed with immediate effect'.
We are seeing living history in action here. The fate of this Grade II listed building (see British Listed Buildings) is not yet clear.
November 10th 2011
The Corn Exchange in Witney town centre has been forced to closed,
after falling into a state of disrepair.
The town council decided temporary closure was the only option for the grade
II listed building at a meeting held on Monday. The decision was prompted by
the latest building inspection report, which was received last week.
The report highlighted imminent issues with the ventilation and heating
systems, which would require a significant amount of public money to fix.
Councillor Harry Eaglestone, Witney town mayor, said: “It’s very sad that as a
council we have had to come to this decision.
The Annual Town Meeting takes place on Wednesday 14th March in Langdale Hall at 7.30pm.
The Annual Town Meeting is an opportunity for Witney residents to express their views and ask questions about issues in the town.
Image from Oxfordshire Guardian
click image to see article
November 10th 2011
The Grade II listed Corn Exchange in Market Square, Witney, has been
closed with immediate effect.
Witney Town Council made the decision because the hall’s heating and
ventilation system is due to fail “imminently”.
The council is moving upcoming events to alternative premises, including
Langdale Hall in Langdale Gate.
It is not yet known how long the hall will be closed for.
November 11th 2011
A public hall in West Oxfordshire has been closed because the heating and
ventilation is close to breaking down.
Inspectors said the Grade II Witney Corn Exchange will be shut for the
foreseeable future "due to the imminent failure" of the system.
"It's time to start looking at something other than short term fixes and that's
what we need to do now," mayor Harry Eaglestone said.
The Corn Exchange was built in 1863 and last refurbished in 1978.
"While we are acutely aware of the historic significance of the Corn Exchange
and the importance of its place in the heart of Witney, in its current state it's
a bit like an old car," the mayor continued.
"Once one thing goes wrong and is fixed you are immediately faced with the
next problem and so it goes on.
"It will take some time to give careful consideration to all of the options before
any decisions are made and before any further money is spent."
Witney Town Council said it has listened to the feedback of the hall's
users and will incorporate them in plans for "a modern, purpose built
town centre venue".
Scroll down for updates.
From Witney Town Council website (publication date unknown).
CORN EXCHANGE/OXFORD INSPIRES
The Chairman and Cllr R Curry gave a verbal report on their progress with Oxford Inspires. They were currently working on a
feasibility study for presentation to the committee, in the near future, for observations. They remarked that they were ensuring
all the questions were answered and were also being mindful of certain areas, e.g. conservation. They were moving forward in a
Cllr Curry confirmed that the intention was to include all sorts of information on customers, opportunities and facilities in order
to ensure that the Corn Exchange would be a useful building and used by the community. Once the Town Council had the
feasibility study it would be able to make a decision on what it wanted to see in the hall - the vision - and instruct the
architects. Decisions need to be based on factual evidence. It was confirmed that Oxford Inspires would be pleased to attend
the next committee meeting on 11 March 2013.
A Member agreed that Oxford Inspires sounded experienced with arts and theatre centres and endorsed the fact that questions
should also be asked about community use and they should also be given as much information on prior use as possible. It was
confirmed that they had already had this information and they fully understood the past usage by community groups and were
also looking at usage by young people.
May 15th 2013
WITNEY'S Corn Exchange, closed by the town council in November 2011 due
to structural problems, could be handed over to a charitable group after its
planned reopening in 2015.
A new report has found the redevelopment plan for the Market Square hall is
"feasible" and a new advisory group has been created to draw up an
architectural brief and a business plan.
The council hopes these will be completed within two months and will enable
it to start searching for donations to fund the start of the redevelopment.
…Public halls committee chairman Toby Morris said: "What has been
established is that the wants and needs, gleaned from our market research,
… The agency, which worked on Oxford's Pegasus Theatre and Old Fire
Station redevelopments, produced a report on May 1 showing the project was
Mr Morris said the press and public were not allowed to attend the meeting on
May 1 because of "commercially sensitive information".
But former Corn Exchange user Margaret Hamm, of Witney Dramatic
Society, said: "The public is entitled to know what is going on with the Corn
"It is a town hall. It belongs to the public and I just feel we should be involved.
Read the full article
September 17th 2013
The Witney Town Council web site shows information for Langdale Hall and Burwell Hall but does not currently appear to report on the status of the
Witney Corn Exchange plans.
However, there is some information posted on the Witney Town Council Facebook page (July 2nd 2013 and July 31st):
4. CORN EXCHANGE
The Corn Exchange Advisory Committee met on 19 June 2013 at which the following recommendations were made for approval:
1. That a Quantity Surveyor is commissioned (in line with the Council's Financial Regulations and the Public Contracts Regulations 2006 - if
applicable) to provide a detailed costing of the repairs and renovations required in order that the next stage of funding application can be
submitted to Heritage Lottery Fund.
2. That the Advisory Committee recommend the QS base their costings upon the original brief, concept designs and the Council's vision for the
3. That Witney Town Council pursue an 'in principal agreement' from West Oxfordshire District Council to release the land at the back of the
building, and from USS Ltd to provide a 'right of way' over the service yard at the back of the Corn Exchange to provide additional access.
4. That while WTC is committed to redeveloping the whole building, as soon as sufficient money is raised for 'phase one' of the redevelopment,
this goes ahead at the front of the building, allowing for a reception, café and one space for hire as a minimum to open as soon as possible and
start generating income to contribute to the redevelopment.
5. That a Business Plan and Project Manager may be required for the project by January 2014.
As a result of the above recommendations being approved, the Town Clerk would also suggest the following recommendations are considered
6. That the appointment of the QS be delegated collectively to Cllrs Roger Curry, Jeanette Baker and the Town Clerk/Facilities Manager.
7. That the cost of the QS be met from the Buildings Earmarked Reserve
Cllrs Roger Curry, Jeanette Baker and Officers will elaborate verbally as necessary at the meeting. Also attached for information/discussion is a