The building replaced an earlier town hall of 1792 which stood a little further west with an arched passageway into North Square.
The building originally comprised a corn exchange, assembly hall and council chamber. Later in the 19th century a new market and police station were added to the north.
The clock turret was added to the building in 1864. It is known as ‘Galpin’s Folly’, after Mayor Galpin who partly paid for it and who approved Benjamin Ferrey’s designs for a tower on a slender pillar. There was public concern that the tower would fall off. It hasn’t yet!