The Market House
Newtownards Town Hall was originally built between 1767 and 1771 by the Marquis of Londonderry as a Market House (formerly a prison) from local Scrabo Stone to a 1765 Grecian-Doric design by Ferdinando Stratford. It is credited with being Ulster's finest Georgian Town Hall. Initially North Street entered Conway Square through the central archway which was fitted with gates that could be closed at night. On either side of this passageway were prison cells. The ground floor was originally an open square with access through the six arches which are now windows. The upper floor of the west wing was an assembly room. By the 1890’s the building was used as a town hall and it was presented to Newtownards by Lord Londonderry in 1897. It now a Grade B listed building and was completely refurbished in 1998. It is now used as an Arts Centre.
The Hall stands in the town centre on the north side of Conway Square. Measuring 120 yards north to south and 90 yards east to west, Conway Square is the largest open space to be found in any Ulster Town. On one side of the square stands a bronze sculpture, a memorial to Lt Col Blair 'Paddy' Mayne, Newtownards most famous soldier. Lt. Col. Blair Mayne DSO, Legion d'Honneur, Croix de Guerre. Born in 1915, he became one of the most decorated soldiers of the Second World War. He earned four Distinguished Services Orders and was a co-founder of the Special Air Service. He died in 1955 and is buried in the cemetery at Movilla Abbey. On the other side is a memorial to the Ards Tourist Trophy races which used to race through the square on their way to Comber. The T.T. races began in 1928, but were discontinued after a car crash caused fatalities among the spectators in 1936.
The cache is a magnetic micro. It is not attached to the monument itself. Please take care in crossing the roads to the site as the roads around it can be quite busy at times, keep a close eye on children too. As this is an extremely public area ensure that you are very discrete in retrieving and replacing the cache. Also please put it back exactly where you got it from. You may want to move elsewhere to sign the log and then return to replace it. Parking is available nearby on the streets and also in NCP car parks. Please take note of any parking restrictions in force.