December 9 2013 Latest news:
Donna-Louise Bishop, Reporter
Saturday, October 26, 2013
It has been dubbed one of the finest municipal buildings of the inter-war period in England and on Tuesday Norwich’s City Hall will be celebrating its 75th birthday.
• City Hall’s 365ft balcony (111.25m) is the longest in the UK.
• The clock tower stands 206ft (63m) high from ground level to the tip of the lighting conductor - almost one fifth of The Shard in London.
• One of the heraldic lions at the entrance was exhibited at the British Empire Exhibition of 1936 where architects spotted it and commissioned its twin.
• City Hall’s first inhabitant was a stray black cat who had kittens in May 1938. The then lord mayor, Charles Watling, had them moved into his parlour, adopting one and finding homes for others.
• Once complete Canadian maple trees were used in the panelling in the lord mayor’s parlour.
• Eighteen plaques designed by James Woodward adorn the bronze entrance doors illustrating the history, civic life and industry of the city.
• Bianca del Mare and Nabresina marbles lines the walls and pillars of the entrance hall and main first floor landing.
• Norfolk wildlife and the city’s coat of arms are depicted on the ceiling of the stairwell leading to the first floor.
• The exterior of the council chamber features three sculptured figures by Alfred Hardman named ‘reflection’, ‘wisdom’ and ‘education’.
Born out of an architectural competition organised by the city council and the Royal Institute of British Architects, the building’s design was drawn up by winners Charles Holloway James and Stephen Rowland Pierce.
And despite drawing a number of critics, one of the biggest crowds ever seen in Norwich arrived to see King George VI and the Queen officially open City Hall on Saturday, October 29, 1938, as reported by Derek James in yesterday’s Norwich Evening News.
Since then the building has stood the test of time.
It survived the Norwich Blitz during the Second World War and has acted as a firm backdrop for a whole host of landmark events – including hosting receptions for Norwich City Football Club following its promotions.
Alan Waters, Norwich City Council’s deputy leader, said the building had a personal place in his heart, especially as his grandfather – a bricklayer – helped in its construction.
He said: “I think it’s got a tremendous place at the heart of the city centre and people know that it is where the government of the city is carried out.
“It is a building which shows the pride people have in Norwich and for me I think every councillor feels a great pride in being a city councillor because of the building we work in and what it means to Norwich – among other things.”
Credit must also be given to architect Robert Atkinson, who drew up the ground plan for the nearby market.
And also the people involved with the restoration of Norwich’s war memorial and memorial gardens, which were reopened in March 2011 after being closed for seven years.
Both of these features have also played an important part in the landscaping of one of the county’s most impressive buildings.
- What are your memories of Norwich City Hall? Contact reporter Donna-Louise Bishop on 01603 693892, email email@example.com