The Faded Grandeur Of London’s Old Town Halls

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.

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  • http://londonist.com/ Lindsey Clarke

    Old Finsbury Town Hall is also home to Urdang Academy http://www.theurdangacademy.com/location-and-facilities/

    • http://londonist.com/ Dean Nicholas

      Ah thanks, I’ll add it in.

  • http://twitter.com/PerfumedDandy 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

  • http://www.facebook.com/diane.burstein.5 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