P D Hepworth, 1937
Waltham Forest Town Hall , Forest Road, E17 4JF
Grade II listed Town Hall clad in Portland Stone. The building incorporates Art Deco and Nordic Classicism styles, also being influenced by the work of local activist William Morris. Extensively refurbished in 2019 by Hawkins Brown.
Walthamstow Central, Wood Street, Blackhorse Road, Walthamstow Queens Road
357, 123, 275, 215, 34
Please note that the Town Hall is just under a mile from the nearest station - the closest bus stops are Bell Corner (BH) or Waltham Forest Town Hall (BP).
Granted borough status in 1929, Walthamstow's Grade II listed Town Hall was built in 1938 following a competition to find the best design.
The winner of the £500 prize was architect Philip Hepworth who used Portland Stone for the Town Hall and the Assembly Hall. Incorporated into Hepworth's design were five carved figures by sculptor Francis Cavanagh (a pupil of Henry Moore) that were intended as a tribute to William Morris who was born in Waltham Forest in 1834 and who became honorary godfather to Rudyard Kipling.
The 1930s were difficult years for the borough since war-time restrictions meant that plywood panelling was used for the committee rooms rather than oak, terrazo was used in the foyer instead of marble, and Francis Cavanagh's design for a 20ft x 4ft frieze in the main entrance had to be scrapped altogether, so the citizens of the borough never saw Hepworth or Cavanagh's magnificent vision as the artists intended.
In 2019 Hawkins Brown were appointed to deliver a comprehensive programme of renovations. The aim was to re-imagine the spaces and functions of the building to better serve the needs of staff, removing partitions to create open-plan workspaces. The Foyer space on the ground floor has also been opened up and is now able to accommodate small events and receptions. Original paint samples, light fittings and Terrazzo flooring have been incorporated throughout to ensure the restoration is sympathetic to the building’s distinctive style.
The Town Hall re-opened in 2021, alongside a new public space – Fellowship Square – created by Churchman Thornhill Finch. The highlight of the new square is a 50-metre wide splash fountain, which can also be switched-off and used as a venue for range of civic ceremonies and cultural events: in 2022 this included Waltham Forest Pride and festivities to mark Windrush Day.
Today, the Town Hall is a hive of activity and a "living building" that has grown and evolved to accommodate the changing needs of those who work within its walls. The historic council chamber is no longer a court room, and the war rooms in the basement are used to store documents. TV crews regularly hire the committee rooms and corridors for filming, whilst the superb acoustics of the adjacent Assembly Hall have attracted international recording stars like Placido Domingo, Jessye Norman, and the late Sir Yehudi Menuhin.
Philip Hepworth's stunning Town Hall design still holds a secret for citizens of the future to uncover. Concealed beneath the coat of arms foundation stone at the main entrance (laid on October 19th 1938 by Mayor Mrs C McEntee J.P.) is an airtight chamber containing a casket of documents that detail the citizens' hopes and plans for the future together with keepsakes of their time!
religious, walk/tour, cemetery
Grade II* listed church dating from 12C with Medieval, Tudor, Georgian & Victorian features. 16C Tower. Church refurbishment and new extension in progress in 2022. Over 1300 monuments with four Grade II listed tombs in churchyard.
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