Old Town Hall, Usk

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Old Town Hall, Usk

This building, now home to the district Royal British Legion branch, was erected in the 18th century. It replaced an earlier market hall in Twyn Square, which had been in use for c.400 years.

The town hall probably dates from the early 1770s. The land was donated by the Earl of Pembroke. The hall belonged to the Duke of Beaufort until 1899, when James Straker of Abergavenny bought it along with Twyn Square and the rights to the market tolls. The ground-floor market hall here had open arches until 1859, when they were filled in after stallholders complained of draughts.

On 10 March 1792 residents of Monmouthshire attended meeting in the town hall on the abolition of the slave trade. Attendees were: "Impress'd with a lively concern for the unparalleled Miseries of our Fellow Creatures, the Africans, and with a just Abhorrence of the Cause of their Miseries – The Slave Trade.” The meeting resulted in an anti-slavery petition. 

Many other communities presented similar petitions to Parliament in the decades which followed, until Britain abolished slavery in 1833. A meeting in Usk in April 1833 resulted in another petition, which described slavery as “utterly repugnant”.

The town hall’s northern section was added c.1816. The round windows you can see at the top on the south side (facing Old Market Street) date from the rebuilding of the upper stories later that century. The round windows admitted extra light to the council chamber.

From 1857 the ground floor was the first headquarters of Monmouthshire Constabulary. There were police cells in the building. The northern section was home to the town’s fire station.

Court cases were heard in the town hall until 1877, when the Sessions House opened. In 1859 magistrates heard an early case of railway pickpocketing. Sarah Allison admitted stealing the purse of Elizabeth Davis on a Monmouth to Usk train and was sentenced to two months in prison with hard labour. Her accomplice, William Price, was later convicted of receiving the purse on the train and went to jail for six months.

The British Legion started meeting here in the early 1930s, when the fire station was still here. The building was given to the Legion’s trustees c.1970. Nearby is a memorial to local men who died in the South African (Boer) war.

With thanks to Usk Civic Society, the RBL Usk & District Branch and the National Library of Wales

Postcode: NP15 1AL    View Location Map

Website of RBL Usk & District Branch