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The Faded Grandeur Of London's Old Town Halls

Dean Nicholas
By Dean Nicholas Last edited 44 months ago
The Faded Grandeur Of London's Old Town Halls
The old Lewisham Town Hall, a Gothic revival building completed in 1875. It ceased to be Town Hall in 1932, when a new building replaced it. It was demolished in 1968 despite a campaign, supported by John Betjeman, to save it.
The old Lewisham Town Hall, a Gothic revival building completed in 1875. It ceased to be Town Hall in 1932, when a new building replaced it. It was demolished in 1968 despite a campaign, supported by John Betjeman, to save it.
Battersea Old Town Hall. It is now the home of the Battersea Arts Centre.
Battersea Old Town Hall. It is now the home of the Battersea Arts Centre.
Finsbury Town Hall, on Rosebery Avenue. Now an events space and home to The Urdang Academy. Photo / Koeln Sued
Finsbury Town Hall, on Rosebery Avenue. Now an events space and home to The Urdang Academy. Photo / Koeln Sued
Postcard showing Paddington Town Hall. The borough was merged with Westminster in 1965, and the town hall was demolished to make way for the Westway.
Postcard showing Paddington Town Hall. The borough was merged with Westminster in 1965, and the town hall was demolished to make way for the Westway.
St Marylebone Old Town Hall. The venue is used for weddings and other private functions functions.
St Marylebone Old Town Hall. The venue is used for weddings and other private functions functions.
Shoreditch Town Hall. Completed in 1866, with extensions added in 1902 and 1938. The building hosts theatrical events, functions and a restaurant, The Clove Club.
Shoreditch Town Hall. Completed in 1866, with extensions added in 1902 and 1938. The building hosts theatrical events, functions and a restaurant, The Clove Club.
Kensington Town Hall, pictured in 1905. The building dates from 1880. It was demolished in 1982 under the orders of  Nicholas Freeman, Conservative leader of Kensington & Chelsea council, hours before it was due to be listed.
Kensington Town Hall, pictured in 1905. The building dates from 1880. It was demolished in 1982 under the orders of Nicholas Freeman, Conservative leader of Kensington & Chelsea council, hours before it was due to be listed.
Fulham Town Hall. Currently used as an events space, although it is set to be transformed into a "quintessentially British lifestyle emporium".
Fulham Town Hall. Currently used as an events space, although it is set to be transformed into a "quintessentially British lifestyle emporium".
Chelsea Town Hall. It is now an events space
Chelsea Town Hall. It is now an events space
The former town hall of the Metropolitan Borough of Southwark, on Walworth Road. It now houses the Cuming Museum. The building was badly damaged in a fire in 2013.
The former town hall of the Metropolitan Borough of Southwark, on Walworth Road. It now houses the Cuming Museum. The building was badly damaged in a fire in 2013.
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Bermondsey Town Hall, on Spa Road. It is set to be converted into flats.
Bermondsey Town Hall, on Spa Road. It is set to be converted into flats.
The interior of Stoke Newington Town Hall. In 2010 after a major refurbishment project it re-opened as an event space and wedding party venue. We had a look round a few years ago.
The interior of Stoke Newington Town Hall. In 2010 after a major refurbishment project it re-opened as an event space and wedding party venue. We had a look round a few years ago.
Hornsey Town Hall, in Crouch End. There have been several projects in recent years to re-open the building; the most recent could see it converted into a drama school.
Hornsey Town Hall, in Crouch End. There have been several projects in recent years to re-open the building; the most recent could see it converted into a drama school.
Stepney Town Hall, with the famous mural depicting the Battle of Cable Street
Stepney Town Hall, with the famous mural depicting the Battle of Cable Street
Poplar Town Hall. It is now home to the Bow Business Centre.
Poplar Town Hall. It is now home to the Bow Business Centre.
Holborn Town Hall. Now offices, and there is a restaurant at ground level.
Holborn Town Hall. Now offices, and there is a restaurant at ground level.
Deptford Town Hall. The building is now part of the Goldsmiths campus.
Deptford Town Hall. The building is now part of the Goldsmiths campus.
Bethnal Green Town Hall. It re-opened in 2011 as a boutique hotel and restaurant, Viajante.
Bethnal Green Town Hall. It re-opened in 2011 as a boutique hotel and restaurant, Viajante.

The boroughs of Holborn, Marylebone, Shoreditch, Finsbury, among others, were once part of London's municipal make-up. They live on in street signs around the capital, but they no longer exist.

The boundaries of the 32 boroughs that now make up Greater London are a relatively recent invention. They were formed in 1965 after the passing of the London Government Act 1963, under which the existing 28 metropolitan boroughs, various county boroughs and certain administrative counties were grouped into 32 new boroughs plus the City of London.

The Metropolitan Boroughs (as seen in the map below) came into existence in 1900, when an Act of Parliament established them to provide local government, which had previously been under the purview of vestries and district boards.

The London Government Act 1963 officially recognised Greater London, and redrew the Metropolitan Boroughs into the 32 boroughs, plus the City of London, that we know and love today. The new, enlarged conurbation was abruptly left with various superannuated bits of municipal architecture: the old town halls. Some, such as Hackney and Islington, became headquarters for the new boroughs. Some were knocked down, others sold on; some have been put into good use, while others left in a parlous state. In the gallery above we take a look at what's happened to some of them since they closed.

Last Updated 30 April 2013

Lindsey Berthoud

Old Finsbury Town Hall is also home to Urdang Academy http://www.theurdangacademy.co...

The Perfumed Dandy

Excellent piece... but I think you've missed the still standing Hampstead Town Hall.
Plus Hornsey's not strictly speaking art deco...
Yours ever
The Perfumed Dandy

Diane Burstein

Great pictures.

Maybe you could do a feature of London's old Parish Vestry halls, forerunners of the Town Halls. Hackney's on Mare Street (Narroway) is now a betting shop, Lambeth's in Kennington Road is now the HQ of the Countryside Alliance, Kensington's old vestry hall can still be seen on Ken High Street (now flats?) , Woolwich's is at the back of the current Greenwich Town Hall and was being used as offices when I last passed by.
To add to your Town Halls in new use is the Greenwich Town Hall building from the 1930s. Unusually, when Greenwich merged with Woolwich they opted for their older Edwardian baroque town hall building and this modernist building is now home to Greenwich Dance Agency and other small organisations. There's also Caxton Hall (now flats) which was Westminster's City Hall before they moved into the he 1960s building where they now reside. They kept on Caxton Hall for a while and it was used as a registry office plus venue . It has also been a venue for Suffragette meetings and the recording of some of Churchill's famous wartime speeches.

Mike

I enjoyed seeing these pictures!

Mike

Here is another town hall you may want to consider posting - Chiswick

Trevor Warner

You could also add Wimbledon Town Hall - now the Centre Court Shopping Centre