Hammersmith Town Hall

4 Aug 1999
Hammersmith Town Hall, King Street W6, Hammersmith, Hammersmith And Fulham, Greater London, W6 9HR
Photograph (Digital)
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This information is taken from the statutory List as it was in 2001 and may not be up to date.

333/6/65 KING STREET W6 19-MAR-81 Hammersmith Town Hall


Hammersmith Town Hall. 1938-9 by E. Berry Webber. Red-purple brick with Portland stone dressings, Crittal windows. Roof not seen. Rectangular site with inner courtyard to the south.

EXTERIOR: three storeys with an attic. South elevation, formerly the main town hall entrance, faces the River Thames across the Great West Road. Projecting centrepiece with arched opening reached via flanking stairs to doors (now blocked) at raised ground floor level; stone stairs have colossal carved heads depicting Father Thames on either side. Above doors is a balcony lighting the mayor's parlour, with a decorative balcony featuring addorsed seahorses. Stone dedication plaques flank entrance. To either side is a four bay, three storey continuation with a ground floor, faced in stone with channelled rustication with a projecting low wall of moulded stone in front of the lower windows; attic storey set back. East and west facades have long elevations, divided into two distinct sections. The longer, southern, sections are of 17 bays grouped around a central arched opening at ground and first floor level. Endmost bays have tall windows running from first floor to third floor level, lighting staircases, with continuous mullions running up to a shallow projecting canopy. Ground floors are faced in channelled rusticated stonework, with moulded, banded brick above; at the southern ends are projecting corners with baluster-shaped finials. The openings have double gates of decorative iron (that to east in-filled at time of inspection). Above the western entrance is a sculpted frieze with five metope reliefs. These depict (from right to left) the Performing Arts, with the masks of Comedy and Tragedy; a central relief of the civic arms, showing crossed hammers over a crown, flanked by two reliefs inscribed SPECTEMUR (with the beacon of learning and books, bearing the date 1939) and AGENDO (with emblems of the building trades; and a relief of the Graphic Arts, embodied by a portrait of Walter Greaves set against a depiction of one of this Hammersmith scenes, with palette and brushes. The first floor windows are set within brick decorative surrounds; those to second floors have taller stone surrounds repeating the motif of the tall staircase windows. The attic windows at fourth floor level have stone lintels above and are set between decorative brick piers. The shorter, northern, sections of the side elevations have projecting sections with, on the west side, arched, double-height windows at first and second floor levels with shallow balconies in front. That to the east is plain, with one single blind door set within a stone frame. To the north are tall staircase windows. Panelled wooden doors are set within the rusticated ground floors. The north elevation, now the main entrance, is part-masked by a 1970s addition (itself of no special interest and specifically excluded from the listing). It originally comprised a monumental flight of stone stairs to the centre: this has now been replaced with the present arrangement. The projecting centrepiece consists of three low doors at first floor level, set beneath tall arched windows, with coffered decoration to the soffits. To either side is a plain brick flank with a short tower rising above, with banded brick rustication to its projecting front. The upper openings are still in place, but are hard to see; the stairs have been removed and a new entrance created at ground floor level. The internal courtyard elevations are faced in yellow raked brick with stone dressings, in a style consistent with the exterior. The former Rates Hall to the south projects inwardly, with a screen of six double-height half columns of brick carrying the Council Chamber above.INTERIOR: generally little changed, and of very high quality overall. The four principal staircases at each corner have bronze handrails, terrazzo floors and skirtings, and with polished limestone sheeting to the more prominent circulation areas. The southern part contained the Rates Hall (now sub-divided with a mezzanine) at ground floor level. The Council Chamber is intact, with a semi-circular array of desks with matching chairs, all facing the mayoral dias and throne. The room is panelled with exotic veneers, and has press and public galleries at upper levels on either side. The Mayor's Foyer comprises a fine, top-lit polished limestone-lined chamber with internal windows at the top, canted forward on corbels with decorative grilles set between moulded mullions. The upper walls and ceiling retain their distinctive painted decoration. The south (river front) contains the Mayor's Parlour, another stone-lined chamber with arched mirrors at either end in recesses with a Soanian vaulted ceiling between; the lower parts of the walls are veneer-lined, beneath a decorative plaster frieze; beneath the mirrors are electric heaters, with decorative grilles in front. On the floor below, the former south entrance foyer has been converted into a senior executive's office with reeded columns of polished limestone. Other interiors of note include Committee Room One, on the north side of the courtyard, with its heavily beamed roof, and the Assembly Room. This is a large public entertainment room, with a stage on the east side flanked by decorative speaker grilles , with a top-lit dance floor with decorative plasterwork to the ceiling; the lower parts of the walls are lined with veneer. Also important is the former entrance hall, with a tripartite barrel-vaulted ceiling, windows on the north side, and murals on the other main fields. These were executed in 1956 by Alfred Daniels and John Titchell (and conserved in 1983): they depict Thames-side scenes, showing old Hammersmith Bridge to the east, the boat race along the three southern fields, and Chelsea Creek on the west wall. The lower sections of the walls are faced in banded polished stone. The stairs at either side are stairs with terrazzo handrails and decorative brass handrails.

HISTORY: The present building replaced the first Hammersmith Town Hall, in Hammersmith Broadway, of 1896-97. Webber, a specialist in municipal buildings best known for his work at Southampton and Dagenham, was invited to design the new town hall in 1936. He adopted a fashionable, but distinctive, Neo-classical style showing a fusion of modern Scandinavian and Dutch motifs combined with English Regency ones. Webber's original designs proposed a more elaborate sculptural treatment (such as a pair of free-standing columns flanking the southern entrance)than was, in the event, realised. The foundation stone is dated 2nd July 1938. Completion was interrupted by war, although the building was substantially finished by 1939. Webber showed drawings for the building at the 1949 Royal Academy. The northern extension was built on the site of a garden to the designs of the borough's architect's department in 1971-75. The building is listed as a fine example of an interwar town hall by one of the specialists in the genre. Little altered, it is a building of bold presence which contains a sequence of fine interiors.

ADDITIONAL FEATURES: low stone capped wall with piers to the south, along the Great West Road.

SOURCES: 'Architecture Illustrated', Oct. 1949 and July 1950.

Listing NGR: TQ2270078486


This is part of the Series: IOE01/0776 IOE Records taken by Richard Gapper; within the Collection: IOE01 Images Of England


© Mr Richard Gapper. Source: Historic England Archive

This photograph was taken for the Images of England project

People & Organisations

Photographer: Gapper, Richard

Rights Holder: Gapper, Richard


Brick, Stone, 20th Century Town Hall, Civil, Meeting Hall, Public Building