Town halls

Southall Town Hall

The once centre of local government in Southall was built in 1897 by Mr C.F. Kearley of Uxbridge and Kensington, to the plans of a Southall architect, Thomas Newall. It is of the debased classical style, with a central pediment. It is constructed of white brick with stone designs. In the basement were two store rooms; on the ground floor the offices of the surveyor, the registrar, the rate collector and the clerk; on the second floor were the council chamber and the medical officer's room. Attached to the building was the caretaker's lodge.

The building cost £9,000 and was constructed on land once owned by the parish's most prominent landowner, the Earl of Jersey. Initially the council had been 'in great trouble over the question of a site'.

Southall-Norwood had become an urban district council in 1894 and it was felt that a permanent building was required to house the staff of the council as well as to provide space for council meetings. According to the council's chairman, Mr Martyn, the need for new offices had long been apparent, and the council was, in his opinion, quite justified in now erecting them when they had become 'absolutely essential for the health and convenience of the members and the officials'. This was because the council were anxious to proceed with various projects, such as the building of public baths, and this would entail 'a good many meetings of the council and its committees' and the need to 'work the officials very hard'. The decision to build also bore in mind Queen Victoria's diamond jubilee and, in part, the building was to honour the event.

The foundation stone was laid, appropriately enough, by Lady Jersey on Monday, 8 November 1897. Despite the fog and rain, a large crowd assembled in the marquee that had been erected in the New Road, as this part of the Uxbridge Road was then known. The councillors, headed by Mr Martyn, senior officials and clergymen were also present.

Lady Jersey was presented with a silver trowel to mark the occasion. Prayers were said and the laying of the stone was 'amid loud cheers'. She then formally handed over to Mr Martyn on behalf of her husband, the deed conveying the land to the council. Her husband could not attend because he was involved in the Light Railway Commission. She said 'In these buildings about to be erected she would hope that they might always find, as they had hitherto found, liberality without extravagance, justice without oppression, promises which were fulfilled by performance, and efforts for the good of all'.

The building was in use from 1898-1965 as a council chamber and offices, though it was never officially opened. With the expansion of local government between the world wars, there was much talk of building a larger town hall in South Road. In fact, work commenced in 1939, but was interrupted by the outbreak of the Second World War. Post-war housing priorities further halted such work. Finally, with the reform of local government in the offing in the late 50s, such plans were shelved forever.  

We would like to thank Dr Jonathan Oates, borough archivist and local history librarian, for the use of his information.