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1886 – Town Hall, Bessbrook, Co. Armagh

Architect: William J. Watson

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“These buildings, designed by Mr. William James Watson, M.R.I.A.I, architect, Newry, have very recently been completed under his supervision. Owing to the rapid increase of the population of this model village, consequent upon the yearly extension of Messrs. Richardson and Co.’s linen manufactories, Mrs. Richardson, several years ago, decided that the erection of a town-hall would be a boon, and at the same time meet a great public want. Kindly aide by the members of the firm (especially Messrs. Harris and Barcroft), Mrs. Richardson took the undertaking in hand, and having carried it to a most satisfactory completion, the buildings now bear testimony to her energy and generosity.

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The buildings stand upon a site overlooking the playgrounds of the village schools are are built throughout of granite from the Bessbrook Company;s quarries, the walls externally being of random coursed work with natural rock face; the dressings, copings, mullions, moulded stringcourses and tracery being of finely ax-dressed granite. The front portions of the building upon ground floor internally comprise vestibule, entrance and staircase halls, public library, tea and retiring rooms, lavatories, kitchen, and caretaker’s compartments &c. Immediately behind is situate the large hall for public entertainments; it is served by two separate entrances, and covered by an open unvarnished ornamental timber roof 40ft. in span. Acoustically the hall is perfect, and comofortably seats 800 people.

The first floor is gained by a granite stone staircase, and comprises a minor or lecture hall, large billiard-room, lavatory and caretakers’s sleeping apartments. Special care has been everywhere paid to ensure good ventilation and the entire buildings are heated by a system of hot water pipes &c., which latter work was entrusted to and executed by Messrs. Musgrave and Co., of Belfast. The internal fittings are of varnished pitch pine; floors of halls, vestibule, and tearooms being laid with encaustic tiles, in character with style of building. The entire works with exception of heating, have been performed by Messrs. Richardson and Co.’s own workmen; the skill and care displayed by the perfect execution of each portion reflects great credit upon all connected therewith.” Published in The Building News, March 15 1886.