City Hall listed for 50 years - here's all you need to know

Remembrance Sunday 08/011/20 a short memorial and wreath-laying service at City Hall at 8am. Socail

Norwich City Hall became a Grade II-listed building 50 years ago this week. - 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.

NORWICHAERIAL VIEW OF NORWICH CENTRE, INCLUDING CITY HALL, ST PETER MANCROFT AND MARKETDATED JUN

An aerial view of Norwich city centre, including City Hall, St Peter Mancroft Church and Norwich Market, dated June 1950. - Credit: Archant Library

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.

Municipal buildings being demolished after construction of City Hall in backgroundc1938

Municipal buildings being demolished after the construction of City Hall in the background, c1938. - Credit: Eastern Daily Press © 1938

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.


You may also want to watch:


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.

Opening of Norwich City Hall by King George VI and Queen Elizabeth on 29th October 1938.; Archant st

Opening of Norwich City Hall by King George VI and Queen Elizabeth on October 29, 1938. - Credit: Archant © 1938

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.

Most Read

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.

The two bronze heraldic lions on their journey to Norwich City Hall. Each worth £600, they are the w

Two bronze heraldic lions on their journey to Norwich City Hall. Each worth £600, they are the work of Alfred Hardiman, ARA. They were in position to greet King George VI and Queen Elizabeth, when the royal couple performed the opening ceremony on 29th October 1938. When told of the cost of the impressive pair, Mr F C Jex laughingly remarked that City Hall could 'get live ones for less'. - Credit: Archant © 1938

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.

King and Queen arrive at Norwich City Hall for its opening in 1938 Archant pic

King George VI and Queen Elizabeth arrive at Norwich City Hall for its opening in 1938. - Credit: Archant © 1938

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.

Norwich City history quiz on clocks. City Hall clock. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Norwich City Hall's famous clock tower stands at 206ft tall. - Credit: Denise Bradley

All part of the effort to make sure this icon of Norwich city centre continues to stand for many more decades to come.

City Hall clock bell - Great GeorgeAbout 20th June 1938p537

The City Hall clock bell, Great George, before it was taken to the top of the clock tower, on June 20, 1938. - Credit: Eastern Daily Press © 1938

Opening of Norwich City Hall by King George VI and Queen Elizabeth on 29th October 1938.Archant st

Opening of Norwich City Hall by King George VI and Queen Elizabeth on October 29, 1938. - Credit: Archant © 1938

Princess Margaret leaving City Hall, July 1952. (ICs455)

Princess Margaret visited City Hall in July 1952. - Credit: Archant Library

Christmas carol service round the Christmas tree outside City Hall in Norwich. Date: December 1975.

A Christmas carol service round the Christmas tree outside City Hall in December 1975. - Credit: Archant Library


Become a Supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years. Our industry faces testing times, which is why we're asking for your support. Every contribution will help us continue to produce local journalism that makes a measurable difference to our community.

Become a Supporter
Comments powered by Disqus