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whitworth hall image
whitworth hall

whitworth hall and laurence gate image

The Whitworth Hall and Laurence Gate c.1900   (courtesy of the National Gallery)

The Whitworth Hall is situated in Laurence Street, Drogheda, in County Louth, Ireland. It was built in 1865 by the local MP at the time, Benjamin Whitworth and was designed by the Belfast architect William Barre. It is built of rubble limestone, with a red brick facade in a Lombardo Romanesque style. The deep window and door arches at the front are striking and the building is a good contribution to the Laurence Street streetscape. It cost in the region of 4,000 pounds to build, and when complete was donated to the people of Drogheda as a gift by Benjamin Whitworth.

Whitworth intended that the hall would be used as a community centre, and that this would be beneficial to the town and its people. He called it "the people's hall", and it was managed by a board of trustees, but the hall fell into a state of disrepair and went into private ownership in the early 1970's.

Down the years the Whitworth has indeed been used by the townspeople and has hosted a wide range of activities. It has been used as a cinema, a theatre, a music hall and a dance hall. Other events to have taken place there include whist drives, roller skating, charity auctions, boxing and wrestling tournaments.

The Whitworth, nowadays in private ownership, is still in use today as a leisure/snooker complex. It is debatable if this is strictly in line with Whitworths vision of a peoples hall, for the benefit of all the community.  Certainly the exterior is very much similar to its appearance in 1865, but internally it is unrecognisable. All the trimmings of the Whitworths past have disappeared and have now been replaced with 3 floors of gaming machines and snooker tables.

Many generations have great memories of the Whitworth... the events and the personalities of previous times. Some of those memories and people are recounted in this website. Will the townspeople in 50 years time recount similar memories from the Whitworth of today?

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