Town Hall, Ealing, by Charles Jones

Town Hall, Ealing. Grade II listed building designed by Charles Jones (1851-1928). 1888. New Broadway, London W5 2BY. This lovely neo-Gothic Town Hall is an impressive elaboration of the same architect's earlier town hall, which had quickly become inadequate for the burgeoning borough. It is of the same materials, Kentish ragstone under slate roofing, and is also mostly two storeys. But the fine gabled entrance to the left has three, as does the central bay. This new town hall is assymetrical like the previous one. Note that the octagonally towered entrance to the right was added later, in 1930, by Prynne & Johnstone (see Cherry and Pevsner 169). [Click on this and the following images for larger pictures.]

Left: Main entrance with sweeping steps up to it, marked by the clock tower above — considerably higher than the tower of the former town hall, with lancet windows and a tall "spirelet" (see listing text). Right: On the façade between the first and second storey of the central bay, the typically earnest Latin motto, "Respice, Prospice" — roughly, "Learn from the past, look to the future" — taken from the old Ealing Borough Council's coat of arms.

Left to right: (a) Neat but picturesque roofing on the projecting bay to the right of the clock-tower. (b) Detailing above the main entrance arches. (c) Rose window on the left return, at the end of the Victoria Hall (see below).

Interior

Left: Grand stairway: Bridget Cherry and Nikolaus Pevsner call it a "sumptuous imperial stair with iron balustrades" (169). On the half-landing where the stair divides, the entrance to the Victoria Hall. Funded by public subscription, this was built in celebration of the Queen's golden jubilee. Today, its hammerbeam roof and vaulted arches make it a popular events venue. Right: Plaque commemorating the opening of the hall by Prince Albert of Wales (the Queen's eldest son, and future King Edward VII). A matching plaque on the other side commemorates the Local Board at the time the town hall was built, and reminds us that the complex originally included a free library. In the lower right-hand corner is Jones's name as architect, and below that, the name of Hugh Knight, as builder.

Left: Windows by the stairwell on the way to the first floor, with geometrically-patterned stained glass in a flower-like design. Middle and right: The attractive skylight over the stairwell, with more stained glass, including some flower-head patterns.

Left: View of the vestibule, looking down from outside the Victoria Hall. Above is the landing for the next floor. Right: Patterned mosaic tiling in the vestibule.

Despite miserably foggy December weather, late in 1888 the new Town Hall was opened with great fanfare. The Prince and Princess of Wales brought their children (including Prince George, the future George V) along for the ceremony, and were attended by guards of honour as they passed through streets thronged with people and adorned by "very tasteful decorations." The Prince of Wales was handed a golden key with which to open the Victoria Hall door, a local choir sang the Hallelujah Chorus, and in reply to the welcome address the Prince described the hall as "a handsome building, lofty and well-proportioned,and admirably adapted for all the purposes of a public hall," praising also "the fine block of public buildings erected concurrently with it by the Local Board" ("The Royal Visit," 7).

Photographs and text by Jacqueline Banerjee. [You may use the images without prior permission for any scholarly or educational purpose as long as you (1) credit the photographer and (2) link your document to this URL or cite it in a print one.]

Sources

Cherry, Bridget, and Nikolaus Pevsner. London 3: North West. The Buildings of England series. New Haven & London: Yale University Press, 2002. Print.

Ealing Town Hall. Listed Buildings Online. Web. 8 March 2013.

"Royal Visit to Ealing." The Times, 17 December 1888: 7. Times Digital Archive. Web. 8 March 2013.

White, John Foster. "Ealing: Queen of the Suburbs: A Guided Walk." Ealing Civic Society. Web. 8 March 2013.


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Last modified 8 March 2013