London comprises 32 boroughs plus the City and Greater London Authority (the one where Boris is the mayor). There are those (lawyers mostly, I think) who argue that it should be re-organised more on New York lines so that there are just five big boroughs. I prefer what we have got – with boroughs of about a quarter of a million apiece – more local – though there is a growing trend for boroughs to form up into small nearby groupings for such things as Legal Services, Purchasing and so on. This is being done to save money – no bad thing at all – and the end user (ie you and me) should see no change in service.
I have photographed – or rather am photographing the Town Halls. It takes a long time to visit all 32 London Boroughs – and so I show here half of them – with another half to come some time in the future.
I have also got some photos from The Strand – taken on a day in that quiet week between Christmas and New Year – which makes for photos with a lot less traffic in the way.
Not many of the Town Halls are actually called, Town Halls any more. Nowadays they are Civic Centres – a name that was probably engineered when Town Clerks became Chief Executives; swank always leads to more swank!
There are many older original Town Halls – that are very photogenic buildings. They come from the earlier London County Council (LCC) boroughs which merged into the larger boroughs of the Greater London Council (GLC) authorities in 1969 – but to photograph all them at the same time is just too big a job.
They’re a very mixed bunch – ranging from Grade II Listed to quite non-descript. A list of some information about them (in the same order as the displayed photographs on Flickr) is below:
Barking and Dagenham: Architects, Herbert Jackson & Reginald Edmond. Started Oct 1926. Abandoned because of the War. Re-started in 1954 and opened in 1958. Looks like the right kind of Town Hall for a Borough which still boasts the Ford Factory.
Barnet: Grade II Listed. Architect TH Watson. There is quite a grand staircase just inside and I can imagine Margaret Thatcher sweeping down those stairs after her election(s) as MP for Finchley.
Bexley: Originally the Woolwich Building Society HQ, built in 1989. Architect John Malyan. Converted to Bexley Civic Centre in 2014.
Brent: New – 2013. Architect Hopkins (of Velodrome fame, amongst many others). Won an RIBA Award for sustainability.
Bromley: A mixed bag, but including the Old Palace – originally built for Bishop of Rochester in 1775.
Ealing: Grade II listed. 1887 and expanded in 1930. Architect was Borough Surveyor, Charles Jones 1830-1913.
Hackney: Grade II listed. 1934-7, by Lanchester & Lodge. The new extension building behind the traditional Town Hall is also by Hopkins.
Hammersmith and Fulham: Architect E Berry Webber (1896-1963). Original building completed 1939. Grade II Listed. An ugly 1960s extension building at the front (the King Street side) is to be replaced by something more appropriate.
Hounslow: Unable to find either from Google searches or the Council who the architect was.
Kensington and Chelsea: Last work by Sir Basil Spence. Completed in 1976, seven days after his death. Grade II listed. Because of the two crowding-in adjacent streets it is very difficult to photograph.
Kingston upon Thames: Grade II listed. 1934-35, Maurice Webb (1880-1939) who also designed the Bentalls Department Store.
Lambeth: Built in 1906 – 1908 to designs by Septimus Warwick and H. Austen Hall.
Lewisham: Present Buildings by Borough Architect M H Forward and his successor A Sutton (late Fifties and finally 1971). Fairly gruesome stuff architecturally.
Richmond upon Thames: Built originally in 1730s by the Yorke Family – local landowners and farmers.
Sutton: Architect unknown. (Thank goodness…)
Waltham Forest: Grade II listed. One of my favourites. 1941, Philip Dalton Hepworth in Swedish style – built in Portland Stone. (A recent star of the Antiques Roadshow)
City of London: Guildhall. Originally built between 1411 and 1440.
Finally are my photographs down the Strand – including several of the Royal Courts of Justice – one of which shows the City Griffin marking the start of the City of London proper quite unmolested by the normal traffic.