Skipton Town Hall was erected in 1862, on the site of the former vicarage of Holy Trinity Church.

It was built in classical style, with columns and pediments, by a private concern, the Skipton Public Buildings Company, at a cost of £4,500.

Its balcony was used to make important announcements - such as the result of an election.

The adjoining 17 High Street was built in the middle of the 19th century for commercial purposes and integrated into the town hall later.

Used as a public function room, the main hall was enlarged and its height increased in 1878.

When Skipton Urban District Council was created in 1895, it bought the building to serve as the town hall, replacing the “old town hall” on Sheep Street. The price tag was £4,500.

Late in the 19th century, a canopy of glass and ornate wrought iron was added on the front, but this was demolished during the 1950s after rust set in.

The town hall became the centre of entertainment for the area and, in 1935, an extension was built to provide extra office space.

The building became home to various activities, ranging from bingo organised by the Friends of Skipton Hospital to bazaars and theatrical performances.

Most were well patronised - although reports state that one show staged by the Bradford-based Q20 Theatre Company in December 1971 attracted an audience of just one person!

Another major development came following the reorganisation of local government in 1974.

Craven District Council was created and took over the running of the very successful Craven Museum from Skipton Urban District Council. However, it was housed in the library which came under the jurisdiction of North Yorkshire County Council.

It was decided to move the museum to new purpose-built accommodation on the first floor of the town hall annexe, funded by local benefactor Jessie Coulthurst of Gargrave House, Gargrave. For the first time, professional museum staff were employed to develop the service.

The first floor of the town hall is also home to the council chamber where Skipton Urban District and latterly Skipton Town Council have met for more than 100 years.

Its ornate chairs and benches were crafted by Robert Thompson, the famous Mouseman of Kilburn.

In more recent times, the town hall has been the subject of much debate on how best to secure its future with ideas including a one-stop shop for local authority services and redevelopment as a cultural hub. All the suggestions acknowledge that Skipton Town Hall is not just a building of significant historic importance, but also a hub for community activity.

In May, with finances getting ever tighter, Craven District Council agreed in principle to the Heritage Trust for the North West taking on running of the hall.

If the scheme goes ahead, it will mean the council will no longer be responsible for the grade two listed building, which is in need of extensive modernisation after decades of neglect, with the most basic of work put at £1 million.

Instead responsibility will pass to the new Skipton Town Hall Trust, which will be in charge of its day-to-day running and maintenance. The trust is currently drawing up a business plan, which has to be submitted by December.

If all goes according to plan, the town hall will continue to house the museum and tourist information centre and will become the new home of Skipton Town Council, which currently has offices above Barclays Bank in the High Street.

Meanwhile, the 150th anniversary milestone, will be celebrated with a music hall-style Victorian extravaganza tomorrow (Friday) at 7.30pm, alongside a display of photographs and memorabilia.

We are indebted to Craven Museum for the loan of the pictures.