Former Sessions House, Northop

button-theme-crimeFormer Sessions House, Northop

This building, now the offices of Quad Architects, was completed in 1877 as a Sessions House – a venue for the petty sessions where criminals accused of lesser offences were tried before magistrates.

By the 1870s there were objections to the local practice of holding the sessions in pubs. In response, John Scott Bankes of Soughton Hall – chairman of the Flintshire Quarter Sessions for 25 years – decided to build a dedicated Sessions House and adjoining police station (now a private house). The two were connected by a doorway – now bricked-up but still visible inside the former courtroom. Inquests were also held here.

The complex, which cost £750 to build, included a three-bedroom residence for the village’s policeman. A “club room” was also provided, in the hope of encouraging local groups to stop meeting in pubs.

The buildings were designed by John Douglas of Chester. He designed hundreds of buildings in the region, and oversaw rebuilding of many churches. He was responsible for the Eastgate Clock, prominent above Chester’s Eastgate Street, and Gladstone’s Library in Hawarden.

The county of Flintshire paid for fitting out of the Sessions House. It rented the facilities from Mr Bankes for £10 a year.

In 1882 three colliers were fined a total of 70 shillings here for removing the tops of their safety lamps while underground at Dublin Colliery, Northop. This was forbidden, as exposing naked flames could ignite flammable gases. In 1891 an inquest was held here on labourer John Moulton, 39, fatally crushed by a wagon at Elm Colliery.

Alfred Hume stood in the dock here in 1888 after a police raid one Sunday caught 17 men drinking beer and ginger beer in his pub, the Red Lion. This contravened the Welsh Sunday Closing Act 1881. He was fined £2 but at least he incurred no travelling expenses – the Red Lion is a stone’s throw from the Sessions House!

Poscode: CH7 6BS    View Location Map

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