Grand structure for a grand town

The entrance to the corn exchange in Alnwick
The entrance to the corn exchange in Alnwick

A trade hall for farmers, dining hall for the masses, drill hall for soldiers and a cinema for film fans – the Corn Exchange has been all of these.

And it could soon be given a new lease of life, after decades of lying dormant, this time as a JD Wetherspoon pub.

The Grade II-listed property, tucked between Bondgate Within and Roxbro Place, was officially opened in May 1862, at a time when Alnwick was achieving national prominence with the arrival of the railway.

Measuring 100 feet along and 50 feet wide, it was designed to hold 2,000 people as a replacement for the old outdoor corn market.

But it also doubled as a space for public dinners, a winter drill hall and storage facilities for the volunteers corps.

The Corn Exchange also become a very popular venue for large events, including public lectures, art exhibitions and even prom concerts.

By 1879, however, market activity had ceased and the Artillery Corps also moved out in 1888. In 1886 it was redecorated, and fitted out as a Victorian theatre. In 1896 it was a dairy school, teaching cheese and butter-making.

In the early 20th century, roller skating, hockey matches and even gymkhanas were staged inside its walls and there were also moving picture shows.

Competition appeared in 1915 with the building of the Playhouse cinema, although the Corn Exchange remained in use as a cinema and bingo hall until the early 1990s when the venue finally closed its doors.