Municipal Buildings, Abingdon

Municipal Buildings
The first of the month is Theme Day at City Daily Photo and this month’s topic is Municipal Buildings
Municipal Buildings
Staff of the Vale of the White Horse District Council (VWHDC) first moved into the new red brick HQ, Abbey House, over the weekend of 27th-28th July 1991. Before then the 251 staff had been housed in five locations in Abingdon town centre: Old Abbey House (previously called Abbey House), The Charter, Bridge Street, Bath Street and Roysse Court. Staff brought with them 3,500 containers, 900 filing cabinets, and 140 items of computer equipment. The Abbey House in Abingdon was officially opened, some time later, by the Duke of Kent on 30th November 1992.
Municipal Buildings
Abbey House continued as the HQ of VWHDC until 2013 when staff moved in with colleagues from South Oxfordshire District Council at their offices in Crowmarsh Gifford. The reason given was that the two councils increasingly worked together and shared core staff.

VWHDC then decided to let part of the ground floor of Abbey House and the whole of the first and second floors to Oxfordshire County Council. Abbey House continues as joint accomodation for both councils with a help desk for both. However both councils have their HQs elsewhere.

In January 2015 the Crowmarsh Gifford offices were extensively damaged by an arson attack. Abbey House was used for some emergency services, and even Old Abbey House was used a little. The VWHDC staff then moved to temporary offices at Milton Park.

The decision has recently been made to rebuild the offices at Crowmarsh Gifford. Last month designs went on display.
Municipal Buildings
Abingdon-on-Thames Town Council was in another Municipal building, Old Abbey House, for many years. That building has been mostly empty since they left in 2014. There has not been a lot of news about what VWHDC will do with it. Before the local elections in 2019 there were plans for it to be used for Social Housing. That was when the Conservatives were in charge. But I am not aware of any new announcements by the new Lib-Dem administration of its new use.
Municipal Buildings
The Town Council is now in Roysse Court.

10 thoughts on “Municipal Buildings, Abingdon

  1. Iain

    It’s a crime from the 1975 local government act – there is a proposal on the table for creating a unitary authority but last I heard Dept Communities wasnt ‘minded to accept’. I am starting to wonder if an Oxfordshire mayoral authority might be an alternative way forward to get some proper devolution.

    Back to Backstreeter’s main post – we really need to keep up the pressure on the VoWHDC to sort out the Old Abbey House and Upper Reaches situation. The state of these publicly owned buildings is a real disgrace.

  2. PPJS

    When I first came to Abingdon (only ten and a half years ago), the Old Abbey House was an absolute delight and the Upper Reaches was a functioning hotel. As Iain and others have said their present state is a reproach and gives a the opposite impression to how they were not so long ago.

  3. Hester

    The Friends of Abingdon Civic Society has been pressing the District Council for action – or at least updates – on both of these for many months now. We have also applied for the “Asset of Community Value” status of Old Abbey House to be renewed – so far without success. I believe that the “new” regime is now at last starting to discuss Old Abbey House so we will be asking for an update soon.
    The only news we have on the Upper Reaches is that the VWHC officers are continuing to negotiate with the leaseholder…
    All very frustrating, a terrible blight on our town and an ever increasing risk that these important and attractive buildings will be lost forever.

  4. Ant

    Surely the obvious solution for the future of the Vale buildings in Abingdon is that when the new Crowmarsh buildings are in use, their Abingdon staff should move into Old Abbey House and then they redevelop the 1992 building as affordable housing? The present state of Old Abbey House is appaling, and the Vale must do something to protect it – and its setting – for the future.

  5. StHelensResident

    I don’t think Abingdon is going downhill at all. In the 12 years my wife and I have lived here we’ve seen: the excellent refurbishment of the outdoor pool; the extension and improvement of the children’s play area by the river; the opening of really good cafes in the town centre, especially R&R; the re-opening and development of the Nag’s Head (remember when it was boarded up for years?); the re-done museum in the old County Hall; the growth of the Christmas Extravaganza; lots of fun events on the Market Square; Fun in the Park; empty shops recovering after the 2008 financial crisis; the new cinema in the Guildhall; a good variety of thriving restaurants… Of course, there are other things that need to be put right, but towns are always like that, changing all the time, with some good things and some not so good. But Abingdon is a very pleasant and attractive town – we are grateful to live here!

  6. Kelly Simpson

    I agree with StHelensResident. Apart from the traffic (and the Abbey House) what has gone downhill? Abingdon certainly has less than the national average of empty shops.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.