Felixstowe Town Hall stands proudly overlooking the sea and has been a key feature of the town ever since it was built in 1892.
Suffolk Coastal District Council which is based in Woodbridge, was also formed at the same time as Felixstowe Town Council. It took over some of the functions of the former Urban District Council and it became the owners of the Town Hall building. Some of the SCDC functions were administered from the Town Hall and it was the base for the local Magistrates Court and The County Council Registrar. Gradually SCDC services were centralised, the Magistrates Court left the building at the end of the 1990’s and the Town Hall became rather neglected and under used.
The combined effect of the deterioration of the fabric of the Town Hall, the advent of legislation requiring public buildings to be made accessible for disabled people and SCDC’s wish to make the Town Council pay a modern occupational rent, resulted in the Town Council deciding to buy the building back from SCDC in 2007 with the benefit of finances raised from the Public Works Loan Board.
The Town Council subsequently embarked upon a major re-modelling and refurbishment project which involved re-roofing, re-wiring, re-plumbing and modernisation of the whole premises. The necessary adaptations required by the Disabled Discrimination Act were also put in place involving an internal lift, the creation of an accessible side access and various internal chair lifts to overcome the difficulty in accessing different floor levels within the Town Hall. This meant that members of the public were able to attend all the meetings held in the Council Chamber which is on the first floor.
The Town Council also obtained a licence from the County Council’s Registration Service which meant that the premises were licenced to hold marriages and Civil Partnerships.
The building is now once again a bustling civic hub used by the Town Council staff and Councillors, the Suffolk County Council Registrar, the Felixstowe Forward team, some of the project team co-ordinating the Seafront Gardens restoration on behalf of SCDC and personnel involved in managing the Resort activities.
The Council Chamber is the venue for all the Town Council’s Committee meetings and other civic business. It also houses some of the Town Council’s art collection and the Cork Lightship bell which sits on the Council Chamber dais. See below;
The Town Hall was the venue of the trial of the two Suffragettes, Florence Tunks and Hilda Birkett who were accused of burning down the Bath Hotel in Felixstowe.
It has also been the venue for the reception of the victorious Schneider Trophy Cup team.
The Town Council has used the history of the building and its past events as the basis for an illustrated talk held on the Heritage Open Days, the most recent of which was held in September 2014.