Legacy of historic Downham Market town hall foundation stone to be preserved

Downham Town Council asking for donations to put a stone plaque  above the The Town hall foundation stone. Picured Cllr John Fox at the foundation stone.
Downham Town Council asking for donations to put a stone plaque above the The Town hall foundation stone. Picured Cllr John Fox at the foundation stone.

Officials in Downham are hoping a piece of history in the town will be immortalised thanks to some help from members of the public.

Members of Downham Town Council’s town hall committee are appealing to residents in the town to make donations – big or small – towards a plaque which will be dedicated to the hall’s ‘foundation stone’, which was laid 130 years ago.

Downham Market Town Hall foundation stone from 1887. Photo: SUBMITTED.

Downham Market Town Hall foundation stone from 1887. Photo: SUBMITTED.

John Fox, who is one such member of the committee, said as time has gone on, the engraving on the foundation stone has faded due to weathering and other environmental factors.

Mr Fox said: “Somebody approached me about it and asked if we could do something about it for its prosperity. As it has been 130 years since the town hall was built, it is kind of special, so it seemed a good idea to do something about it.

“As time goes by, it is only going to deteriorate even more. Before the words have completely disappeared the town council, through the town hall committee, feel it would be appropriate to record them.”

The foundation stone was laid in 1887 – and the engraving tells of those who were involved in the town hall’s construction in that year.

Downham Market Town Hall foundation stone from 1887. Photo: SUBMITTED.

Downham Market Town Hall foundation stone from 1887. Photo: SUBMITTED.

It names William Amhurst Tyssen-Amherst who was MP for the area at that time, George Flower Wood who was the chairman of the town hall company, as well as the architect J Johnson and the Bennett brothers who were builders.

Mr Fox said, as the town hall was built thanks to public subscription, it seemed right in this spirit to ask if any members of the public would like to make a donation towards the project.

“It means more if people can give something towards this and all donations help,” he added.

Mr Fox said the town sign had been partly-funded by donations from the public.

“As a number of people gave funds towards the town sign, it gave them more of a personal interest in it.”

He said:“The town hall, along with the town clock, is the centrepiece of the town. It is what you see on postcards to say ‘this is Downham Market’.”

The committee hope to install an engraved stone plaque in the pillar above the foundation stone facing the town square.

Donations can be made payable to Downham Market Town Council and endorsed with Town Hall Foundation Stone.

These can be sent or delivered to the Town Council Offices which are located at 15 Paradise Road, Downham Market, PE38 9HS.