City Hall listed for 50 years - here's all you need to know
- Credit: Brittany Woodman
This week marked 50 years since one of Norwich's most recognisable buildings, City Hall, became a listed building.
The building, which houses Norwich City Council and Norfolk Constabulary's Bethel Street Police Station, was first listed with Historic England on January 29, 1971 – more than three decades after it was first opened.
One of the finest English municipal buildings to be constructed during the inter-war period, City Hall was initially designed in 1931 by architects James and Pierce, who fended off competition from 142 other entrants in a public contest.
In the 19th century, local government offices had been based at the medieval Guildhall and in municipal buildings, but it had been decided that a more modern home was needed.
That site overlooking Market Place had been selected as an ideal spot to develop the new home of the local authority, as it was central in the city – and so work began on the five-storey building in 1937.
It was completed a year later, built in a Classical style with Art Deco detailing. King George VI and Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother, were invited to open the building in front of a huge turnout of locals.
City Hall turned out to be one of the last of its style as, the following year the Second World War broke out – the financial impact of which meant the construction of a building of similar, exemplary quality elsewhere could not be contemplated for many years.
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Fortunately, it survived the Norwich blitz – unconfirmed rumours say Hitler ordered that it not be damaged as he wanted to make his post-war victory speech from Germanic facade's balcony – and it remains standing as one of the 12 city heritage buildings considered to have historical or cultural importance.
Now, the building and its famous 206ft clock tower have watched over the city for 83 years – the last 50 of which while covered by Grade II-listed status.
As with all buildings, there have been times when upkeep has been required to keep City Hall looking the part.
The most recent of such works took place this time last year, when the front was covered in scaffolding for a £35,000 project to repair and repaint the balcony railings.
And three years before that, its famous clock was stopped for three months to allow for repairs to take place.
All part of the effort to make sure this icon of Norwich city centre continues to stand for many more decades to come.