Rochdale Town Hall

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Rochdale Town Hall
Rochdale Town Hall.jpg
The Town Hall, in 2008
Greater Manchester UK location map 2.svg
Red pog.svg
Shown within Greater Manchester
Former namesRochdale Town Hall and Police G.V. I Station
General information
Type Town hall
Architectural style Victorian, Gothic Revival
Location Rochdale
Greater Manchester
England
AddressThe Esplanade
ROCHDALE
OL16 1AB
Coordinates 53°36′56″N2°09′34″W / 53.6156°N 2.1594°W / 53.6156; -2.1594
Current tenantsRochdale Metropolitan Borough Council
Construction started31 March 1866
Inaugurated27 September 1871
Destroyed10 April 1883 (tower)
Cost£160,000 (£14,630,000)
OwnerRochdale Metropolitan Borough Council
Height190 feet (58 m)
Technical details
Floor count3 [1]
Floor area3,000 square yards (2,500 m2) [2]
Design and construction
Architect William Henry Crossland,
Alfred Waterhouse (clock tower only)
Other designersRochdale Corporation
Main contractorW. A. Peters and Son [3]
Awards and prizes Grade I listed building
References
[4] [5] [6]

Rochdale Town Hall is a Victorian-era municipal building in Rochdale, Greater Manchester, England. It is "widely recognised as being one of the finest municipal buildings in the country", [4] and is recorded in the National Heritage List for England as a designated Grade I listed building. The Town Hall functions as the ceremonial headquarters of Rochdale Metropolitan Borough Council and houses local government departments, including the borough's civil registration office.

Victorian era Period of British history encompassing Queen Victorias reign

In the history of the United Kingdom, the Victorian era was the period of Queen Victoria's reign, from 20 June 1837 until her death on 22 January 1901. The era followed the Georgian period and preceded the Edwardian period, and its later half overlaps with the first part of the Belle Époque era of Continental Europe. In terms of moral sensibilities and political reforms, this period began with the passage of the Reform Act 1832. There was a strong religious drive for higher moral standards led by the nonconformist churches, such as the Methodist, and the Evangelical wing of the established Church of England. Britain's relations with the other Great Powers were driven by the colonial antagonism of the Great Game with Russia, climaxing during the Crimean War; a Pax Britannica of international free trade was maintained by the country's naval and industrial supremacy. Britain embarked on global imperial expansion, particularly in Asia and Africa, which made the British Empire the largest empire in history. National self-confidence peaked.

Rochdale town in Greater Manchester, England

Rochdale is a town in Greater Manchester, England, at the foothills of the South Pennines on the River Roch, 5.3 miles (8.5 km) northwest of Oldham and 9.8 miles (15.8 km) northeast of Manchester. It is the administrative centre of the Metropolitan Borough of Rochdale, which had a population of 211,699 in 2011.

Greater Manchester County of England

Greater Manchester is a metropolitan county and combined authority area in North West England, with a population of 2.8 million. It encompasses one of the largest metropolitan areas in the United Kingdom and comprises ten metropolitan boroughs: Bolton, Bury, Oldham, Rochdale, Stockport, Tameside, Trafford, Wigan, and the cities of Manchester and Salford. Greater Manchester was created on 1 April 1974 as a result of the Local Government Act 1972, and designated a functional city region on 1 April 2011.

Contents

Built in the Gothic Revival style at a cost of £160,000 (£14.6 million in 2019), [7] it was inaugurated for the governance of the Municipal Borough of Rochdale on 27 September 1871. The architect, William Henry Crossland, was the winner of a competition held in 1864 to design a new Town Hall. It had a 240-foot (73 m) clock tower topped by a wooden spire with a gilded statue of Saint George and the Dragon, both of which were destroyed by fire on 10 April 1883, leaving the building without a spire for four years. A new 190-foot (58 m) stone clock tower and spire in the style of Manchester Town Hall was designed by Alfred Waterhouse, and erected in 1887.

Gothic Revival architecture Architectural movement

Gothic Revival is an architectural movement popular in the Western world that began in the late 1740s in England. Its momentum grew in the early 19th century, when increasingly serious and learned admirers of neo-Gothic styles sought to revive medieval Gothic architecture, in contrast to the neoclassical styles prevalent at the time. Gothic Revival draws features from the original Gothic style, including decorative patterns, finials, lancet windows, hood moulds and label stops.

County Borough of Rochdale

Rochdale was, from 1856 to 1974, a local government district coterminate with the town of Rochdale in the northwest of England.

William Henry Crossland was a 19th-century architect and a pupil of George Gilbert Scott.

Art critic Nikolaus Pevsner described the building as possessing a "rare picturesque beauty". [8] Its stained glass windows are credited as "the finest modern examples of their kind". [4] The building came to the attention of Adolf Hitler, who was said to have admired it so much that he wished to ship the building, brick-by-brick, to Nazi Germany had the United Kingdom been defeated in the Second World War. [9]

Nikolaus Pevsner German-born British scholar

Sir Nikolaus Bernhard Leon Pevsner was a German-British art historian and architectural historian best known for his monumental 46-volume series of county-by-county guides, The Buildings of England (1951–74).

Stained glass decorative window composed of pieces of coloured glass

The term stained glass can refer to coloured glass as a material or to works created from it. Throughout its thousand-year history, the term has been applied almost exclusively to the windows of churches and other significant religious buildings. Although traditionally made in flat panels and used as windows, the creations of modern stained glass artists also include three-dimensional structures and sculpture. Modern vernacular usage has often extended the term "stained glass" to include domestic lead light and objects d'art created from foil glasswork exemplified in the famous lamps of Louis Comfort Tiffany.

Adolf Hitler Leader of Germany from 1934 to 1945

Adolf Hitler was a German politician and leader of the Nazi Party. He rose to power as Chancellor of Germany in 1933 and later Führer in 1934. During his dictatorship from 1933 to 1945, he initiated World War II in Europe by invading Poland in September 1939. He was closely involved in military operations throughout the war and was central to the perpetration of the Holocaust.

History

Rochdale had developed into an increasingly large, populous, and prosperous urban mill town since the Industrial Revolution. Its newly built rail and canal network, and numerous factories, resulted in the town being "remarkable for many wealthy merchants". [10] In January 1856 the electorate of the Rochdale constituency petitioned the Privy Council for the grant of a charter of incorporation under the Municipal Corporations Act 1835, to constitute the town as a municipal borough. This would give it limited political autonomy via an elected town council, comprising a mayor, aldermen, and councillors, to oversee local affairs. [11] The petition was successful and the charter was granted in September 1856. [12] The newly formed Rochdale Corporation—the local authority for the Municipal Borough of Rochdale—suggested plans to build a town hall in which to conduct its business in May 1858. [2] [3] The site of an abandoned 17th century house known as the Wood was proposed. Six months later, in April 1860, Rochdale Corporation arranged to buy the site on the outskirts of the town centre for £4,730 (£465,000 in 2019). [7] However, plans were shelved due to lengthy negotiations and increasing land prices. In January 1864 the scheme resumed with a new budget of £20,000 (£1,840,000 in 2019). [7] [3]

A mill town, also known as factory town or mill village, is typically a settlement that developed around one or more mills or factories, usually cotton mills or factories producing textiles.

Industrial Revolution Transition to new manufacturing processes in Europe and the United States

The Industrial Revolution, now also known as the First Industrial Revolution, was the transition to new manufacturing processes in Europe and the United States, in the period from about 1760 to sometime between 1820 and 1840. This transition included going from hand production methods to machines, new chemical manufacturing and iron production processes, the increasing use of steam power and water power, the development of machine tools and the rise of the mechanized factory system. The Industrial Revolution also led to an unprecedented rise in the rate of population growth.

Rochdale (UK Parliament constituency) Parliamentary constituency in the United Kingdom, 1832 onwards

Rochdale is a seat represented in the House of Commons of the UK Parliament. It has elected one Member of Parliament (MP) since its 1832 creation.

The wood and surrounding area were cleared, but it is unknown what became of the dispossessed; there was no legal requirement for the authorities to rehouse the former inhabitants. [13] A design competition to find a "neat and elegant building" was held by the Rochdale Corporation, [14] who offered the winning architect a prize of £100 (£9,700 in 2019), [7] and a Maltese cross souvenir. From the 27 entries received, William Henry Crossland's was chosen. [2] [5] The Rochdale-born Radical and Liberal statesman John Bright laid the foundation stone on 31 March 1866. Construction was complete by 1871 although the cost had, by then, increased beyond expectations from the projected £40,000 [15] to £160,000 (£14,630,000 in 2019). [7] [2] [6] [16]

Maltese cross cross symbol associated with the Knights Hospitaller (the Knights of Malta)

The Maltese cross is a cross symbol, consisting of four "V" or arrowhead shaped concave quadrilaterals converging at a central vertex at right angles, two tips pointing outward symmetrically.

Radicals (UK) parliamentary political grouping in the United Kingdom

The Radicals were a loose parliamentary political grouping in Great Britain and Ireland in the early to mid-19th century, who drew on earlier ideas of radicalism and helped to transform the Whigs into the Liberal Party.

Liberal Party (UK) political party of the United Kingdom, 1859–1988

The Liberal Party was one of the two major parties in the United Kingdom with the opposing Conservative Party in the 19th and early 20th centuries. The party arose from an alliance of Whigs and free trade Peelites and Radicals favourable to the ideals of the American and French Revolutions in the 1850s. By the end of the 19th century, it had formed four governments under William Gladstone. Despite being divided over the issue of Irish Home Rule, the party returned to government in 1905 and then won a landslide victory in the following year's general election.

Rochdale Town Hall Plan.jpg
Plans for Rochdale Town Hall as published in The Builder in 1866
Rochdale Town Hall, 1874.png
Rochdale Town Hall as it appeared in 1874, including its original 240-foot (73 m) clock tower with wooden spire

The Town Hall was one of several built in the textile towns of North West England following the Municipal Corporations Act 1835, but is one of only two in Greater Manchester built in the Gothic style. Between the setting of the foundation stone and the building's completion, revisions and additions were made to the original design. Money was "lavished" upon the decor and inventory, and the extra expenditure did not escape the ire of its critics. [2] The cost of the building increased year-on-year through a combination of mismanagement, overspending and "unauthorised work". [14] Public criticism of the high cost was aimed at Crossland and the Mayor of Rochdale, George Leach Ashworth, who oversaw the work. [3] Nevertheless, Rochdale Town Hall was ultimately celebrated as "a source of pride", and its completion prompted celebration and rejoicing; [2] it transformed a "derelict and marshy riverbank in to a huge romantic Gothic plaza". [13] The opening ceremony on 27 September 1871 was performed by Mayor Ashworth, who had been instrumental in the changes made to the building's design. [2]

North West England region of England in United Kingdom

North West England, one of nine official regions of England, consists of the five counties of Cheshire, Cumbria, Greater Manchester, Lancashire and Merseyside. The North West had a population of 7,052,000 in 2011. It is the third-most-populated region in the United Kingdom after the South East and Greater London. The largest settlements are Manchester, Liverpool, Warrington, Preston, Blackpool and Chester.

In 1882 or 1883 [17] dry rot was found in the 240-foot (73 m) high spire. On the recommendation of Rochdale's Borough Surveyor, contractors were engaged to rebuild it. [2] [3] The spire was to be demolished to clear the way for a replacement. It was rumoured that the workmen who were dismantling the top section of the wooden spire may have tried to speed up the dismantling process with matches and, at 9:20 am on 10 April 1883, a blaze was discovered. Despite the efforts of volunteers and the local fire brigade, 100 minutes after the discovery of the fire the entire spire, including a statue of Saint George and the Dragon, had been destroyed. [18] The cause of the fire was never established, [2] but Rochdale's fire service was criticised for taking longer to respond to the blaze than Oldham's (based 5 miles (8 km) south), despite the Rochdale Fire Brigade being based in the Town Hall. [3] Alfred Waterhouse was given the task of designing a 190-foot (58 m) stone replacement. [3] His work on the clock tower, which was built between 1885 and 1887 [3] about 15 yards (14 m) further to the east than the original, [2] shows many similarities to Manchester Town Hall, [3] which he also designed. [19] The tower was opened in 1887; [5] an inscribed plaque commemorates the fire of 1883. [3]

On 15 January 1931, at the height of the Great Depression in the United Kingdom, the Territorial Army was called to guard the Town Hall during a protest against unemployment and hunger. [20]

In May 1938, Rochdale-born actress, singer and comedian Gracie Fields was granted Honorary Freedom of the Borough for her contribution to entertainment. "When the ceremony was over, Gracie went onto the town hall balcony to receive the cheers and good wishes of the thousands of people who were packing the streets below." [21]

Although it is not fully understood how it came to his attention, Rochdale Town Hall was admired by Adolf Hitler. [22] [23] It has been suggested a visit by Hitler in 1912–13 while staying with his half-brother Alois Hitler, Jr. in Liverpool, or military intelligence on Rochdale, or information from Nazi sympathiser William Joyce (who had lived in Oldham), brought the building to his attention. Hitler admired the architecture so much that it is believed he wished to ship the building, brick-by-brick, to Nazi Germany had German-occupied Europe encompassed the United Kingdom. Rochdale was broadly avoided by German bombers during the Second World War. [22] [23]

Features

Location

At OS Grid Reference SD895132 (53.6156°, −2.1594°), Rochdale Town Hall is the centerpiece of Rochdale, located in Town Hall Square to the south of The Esplanade and the River Roch. [2] [24] The Parish Church of St Chad is situated by the wooded hillside behind the Town Hall. [24] In Town Hall Square, opposite the Town Hall, is a statue of John Bright, dated 1891, and the Rochdale War Memorial. Bright was a Rochdale-born orator, pacifist and Member of Parliament for Birmingham known for his campaigns to repeal the Corn Laws as well as his opposition to slavery in the United States and the Crimean War. [25] Touchstones Rochdale art gallery and local studies centre is across The Esplanade. [25]

Exterior and layout

Rochdale Town Hall in 1909 Rochdale Town Hall, 1909.jpg
Rochdale Town Hall in 1909

The frontage and principal entrance of the Town Hall face the River Roch, [1] and comprises a portico of three arches intersected by buttresses. Decorating the main entrance are stone crockets, gargoyles, and finials. Four gilded lions above a parapet around three sides of the portico bear shields carrying the coats of arms of Rochdale Council and the hundred of Salford. [2]

Rochdale Town Hall is 264 feet (80 m) wide, 123 feet (37 m) deep, and is faced with millstone grit quarried from Blackstone Edge and Todmorden. [2] Although now blackened by industrial pollution, the building has been described as a "rich example of domestic Gothic architecture". [2] Naturalistic carved foliage on the exterior recalls the style of Southwell Minster, [5] and the architecture is influenced by Perpendicular Period and medieval town halls of continental Europe. [2] The building has been likened to Manchester Town Hall, Manchester Assize Courts, the Royal Courts of Justice, and St Pancras railway station, all products of the Gothic Revival architectural movement. [2] The stained glass windows, some of which were designed by William Morris, [5] have been described as "the finest modern examples of their kind". [4] At each end of the frontage is an octagonal staircase. [1]

In the words of Nikolaus Pevsner, Rochdale Town Hall has "a splendidly craggy exterior of blackened stone". [16] The building has a roughly symmetrical E-shaped plan, and is broken down into three self-contained segments: a central Great Hall and transverse wings at each end, which have variously been used as debating chambers, corporation-rooms, trade and a public hall. [1] The south-east wing used to house the magistrates' courts, and the north-west wing the mayor's rooms. In the north-east is a tower. Access to the main entrance is through a central porte cochere. [26] The façade extends across 14 bays, of which the Great Hall accounts for seven. On both sides, the outermost bays rise to three storeys. They flank asymmetric round-headed arcades—two to the left and three to the right, all of single-storey height—which sit below plain mullioned windows, balconies and ornately decorated gables. [5]

The clock tower was designed by Alfred Waterhouse, the architect of Manchester Town Hall. Rochdale Town Hall Clock.jpg
The clock tower was designed by Alfred Waterhouse, the architect of Manchester Town Hall.

Clock tower

The present clock tower, which has a stone spire, was built to replace the one destroyed in the 1883 fire. It was designed by Alfred Waterhouse in a similar style to one of his earlier works, the clock tower of Manchester Town Hall. The first stone was laid by Thomas Schofield JP, Alderman and Rochdale Borough Councillor, on 19 October 1885 and the tower was declared complete on 20 June 1887, the Golden Jubilee of Queen Victoria. It contains five bells which ring on the hour and at 15-minute intervals. The design of the original tower was more elaborate and 50 feet (15 m) higher than its successor, which is 190 feet (58 m) tall. [2]

The tower rises from a plinth and has four stages including the gable-headed clock stage, which is also decorated with pinnacles. A small stone spire completes the composition. [5]

Interior

Entrance Hall Rochdale Town Hall interior 29 July 2017.jpg
Entrance Hall
Etching of the Grand staircase by William Henry Crossland, 1871 Rochdale Town Hall Grand staircase.jpg
Etching of the Grand staircase by William Henry Crossland, 1871

Murals in the former council chamber depict the inventions that drove the Industrial Revolution, [27] and the Great Hall is adorned with a large fresco of the signing of Magna Carta by artist Henry Holiday, although the painting is dirty. [8] Responsibility for the decoration of the interior was given to Heaton, Butler and Bayne, who incorporated floor tiles that were manufactured by Mintons and decorated with the local insignia and the Royal coat of arms of the United Kingdom. [28] The stone Grand Staircase, which leads from the vestibule to the Great Hall, is decorated with stained glass; such glass windows decorate most of the Town Hall and are considered to be the finest example of the work of Heaton, Butler and Bayne. [29] [30] The medieval style Great Hall, described by Pevsner as a room of "great splendour and simplicity", [30] has a hammerbeam roof flanked by statues of angels, in a design that resembles Westminster Hall. [4]

Heritage status and function

Rochdale Town Hall during the winter of 2009-2010 Rochdale Town Hall, in the snow.jpg
Rochdale Town Hall during the winter of 2009–2010

The Town Hall was listed at Grade I on 25 October 1951. [5] Such buildings are defined as being of "exceptional interest, sometimes considered to be internationally important". [31] In February 2001, it was one of 39 Grade I listed buildings, and 3,701 listed buildings of all grades, in Greater Manchester. [32] Within the Metropolitan Borough of Rochdale, it is one of only three Grade I listed buildings, and 312 listed buildings of all grades. [33]

Although the majority of local government functions take place in Rochdale's Municipal Offices building, Rochdale Town Hall continues to be used for cultural and ceremonial functions. For instance it is used for the Metropolitan Borough of Rochdale's mayoralty, [34] civil registry, [35] [36] [37] and for formal naturalisation in British Citizenship ceremonies. [38] [39]

See also

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References

Footnotes

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  2. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 Public Monuments and Sculpture Association (16 June 2003), Rochdale Town Hall, pmsa.cch.kcl.ac.uk, retrieved 21 January 2010
  3. 1 2 3 4 5 Rochdale Metropolitan Borough Council & N.D. , p. 43.
  4. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 Historic England, "Town Hall, Rochdale (1084275)", National Heritage List for England , retrieved 12 September 2013
  5. 1 2 Godman 2005, p. 10.
  6. 1 2 3 4 5 UK Retail Price Index inflation figures are based on data from Clark, Gregory (2017). "The Annual RPI and Average Earnings for Britain, 1209 to Present (New Series)". MeasuringWorth. Retrieved 27 January 2019.
  7. 1 2 Hartwell, Hyde & Pevsner 2004 , p. 59.
  8. "Preserving the Rochdale Reichstag". BBC. 2009-09-15. Retrieved 2016-08-24.
  9. Godman 2005 , p. 7.
  10. "No. 21845". The London Gazette . 1 February 1856. p. 365.
  11. "Rochdale's Charter of Incorporation (and letters)". link4life.org. Retrieved 9 July 2008.
  12. 1 2 Cunningham 1981 , p. 175.
  13. 1 2 Garrard 1983 , p. 81.
  14. "Rochdale Town Hall: Laying of the cornerstone by Mr. Bright M.P.", The Leeds Mercury, p. 2, 2 April 1866|access-date= requires |url= (help)
  15. 1 2 Hartwell, Hyde & Pevsner 2004 , p. 594.
  16. Rochdale Boroughwide Community Trust, Rochdale Town Hall, link4life.org, retrieved 17 January 2010 gives the year as 1882 whereas "The 1880s", Rochdale Observer , rochdaleobserver.co.uk, 13 June 2003, retrieved 16 January 2010 states 1883.
  17. "The 1880s", Rochdale Observer, M.E.N. Media, 11 June 2003, retrieved 16 January 2010
  18. Cunningham, Colin (2004), "Waterhouse, Alfred (1830–1905)" ((subscription or UK public library membership required)), Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford: Oxford University Press, retrieved 25 July 2011
  19. Marwick 2000 , p. 110.
  20. Moules 1983 , pp. 77–78.
  21. 1 2 "Amazing windows always a glass act", Rochdale Observer, M.E.N. Media, 7 October 2006, retrieved 22 December 2007
  22. 1 2 "Preserving the Rochdale Reichstag", BBC News, 15 September 2009, retrieved 16 January 2010
  23. 1 2 Hardy 2005 , p. 50.
  24. 1 2 Industrial Powerhouse (NWDA) (August 2006), Rochdale Heritage Trail (PDF), industrialpowerhouse.co.uk, retrieved 21 January 2010
  25. Hartwell, Hyde & Pevsner 2004 , pp. 594–595.
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Coordinates: 53°36′56″N2°09′34″W / 53.6156°N 2.1594°W / 53.6156; -2.1594