When the Council originally purchased the hall and gardens to use as the Town Hall they were surrounded by a high wall and could not be seen from the main road.
In 1893 Mr Frederick Monks, a member of the council and Director of the Monks Hall Foundry saw some magnificent gates on one of his many visits to Ironbridge.
These he offered as a gift to the council and after installation they were formally opened on 'Walking Day' 28 June 1895. The gates were originally exhibited by the Coalbrookdale Company at the International Exhibition in London in 1862 although there are a number of small differences from the gates I photographed to the ones that were exhibited.
Originally the centre archway of the gates was surmounted by large Prince of Wales feathers, a wreath and the motto 'ICH DIEN', and there were no movable gates under this archway. Today the Prince of Wales feathers, wreath and motto have been replaced by the arms used by the borough from 1847 to 1897.
The gates have an extreme width of 16.459m, and measure 7.620m to the top of the central arch.
Railings approximately 1.200m high were originally erected either side of the gates on a 610mm high stone base although today only a small section of railings and the stone plinth remain. The remainder together with a fountain being removed in 1942 to aid the war effort.
Mr Monks at this time also gave a smaller pair of gates to be placed at the corner of Crosfield Street and Sankey Street. These gates and railings as well as the movable gates which now fill the central arch were also made at the Coalbrookdale Foundry.
There are several stories told concerning the reason for the Prince of Wales feathers on the original gates and what happened to the gates between them being at the 1862 Exhibition and their erection at Warrington in 1895.
One story which is noted as being the most likely seems to be that although they were specifically produced for the 1862 Exhibition, they had been commissioned by one of the livery companies of London as a gift to Queen Victoria to be used at Sandringham, a property purchased in 1862 for the Prince of Wales (later Edward VII).
It was however the custom at the time, that prior to the acceptance of such a gift, the Queen should be able to inspect the object offered. The gates were therefore erected in Rotten Row, but unfortunately the statue of Oliver Cromwell (now sited at Bridgefoot) modelled by the same artist who designed the figures on the top of the gates, was placed behind them, and it is understood that this caused Her Majesty displeasure to the extent that she refused the gates.
They were then returned to Coalbrookdale where they lay from 1863 to 1893, when they were seen by Mr F Monks.
The records of the Coalbrookdale Company indicate that the gates, which are made of cast-iron, were designed by a Mr Kershaw in conjunction with a manager named Mr Crook, and that the four finials representing the goddess of victory, Nike, were the work of John Bell.