History in Structure

Dewsbury Town Hall, including former Magistrates’ Court

A Grade II* Listed Building in Dewsbury, Kirklees

More Photos »
Approximate Location Map
Large Map »


Latitude: 53.6913 / 53°41'28"N

Longitude: -1.6267 / 1°37'35"W

OS Eastings: 424750

OS Northings: 421710

OS Grid: SE247217

Mapcode National: GBR KT2R.MJ

Mapcode Global: WHC9X.ZHK2

Plus Code: 9C5WM9RF+G8

Entry Name: Dewsbury Town Hall, including former Magistrates’ Court

Listing Date: 18 November 1977

Last Amended: 5 September 2023

Grade: II*

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1134707

English Heritage Legacy ID: 340763

Also known as: The Town Hall Including Magistrates' Court

ID on this website: 101134707

Location: Dewsbury, Kirklees, West Yorkshire, WF12

County: Kirklees

Electoral Ward/Division: Dewsbury East

Parish: Non Civil Parish

Built-Up Area: Dewsbury

Traditional County: Yorkshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): West Yorkshire

Church of England Parish: Dewsbury Team Parish

Church of England Diocese: Leeds

Tagged with: City hall Seat of local government

Find accommodation in


Dewsbury Town Hall, 1886 to 1889, by Henry Holtom and George Arthur Fox of Dewsbury in the ‘Mixed Renaissance’ style.


Town Hall, 1886 to 1889, by Henry Holtom and George Arthur Fox of Dewsbury in ‘Mixed Renaissance’ style.

MATERIALS: the building is in ashlar sandstone, using stone from the Holmfirth quarries, with slate roofs.

PLAN: Dewsbury Town Hall is an irregular U-shaped building of three storeys with attics, except for the courthouse/police station which is two storeys and the Victoria Hall which is open to the roof. The main entrance is to the west/north-west (onto Market Square) and there is a further entrance to the north (Wakefield Old Road). The three wings of the building comprise the west/north-west wing, which accommodates the main entrance hallway at first-floor level and a suite of formal rooms at second-floor level; the north wing, which contains various offices and meeting rooms; and the south/south-east wing (Town Hall Way), where the council chamber and courthouse are located.

At the centre of the U-shaped building is the Victoria Hall, linked to the west/north-west wing and the north wing by a series of short corridors. The land slopes downwards from the north-east to the south-west, and the ground-floor level is semi-sunken on the northern side. There has been some infill construction on the north side, between the north wing and Victoria Hall (first shown on the OS Map 1:2500 1922 edition) and a new public entranceway has been created on the ground floor, to the front elevation.


FRONT ELEVATION: the front elevation (to the west/north-west) is symmetrical and of five bays with two rounded corner bays. The ground and first floor are rusticated, and the ground floor has vermiculated quoins. The window openings to the ground and first floor are square-headed, with sunken aprons to the first floor. To the second floor, the window openings are round-headed with keystones, imposts and sunken aprons. The central bay breaks forward and a flight of splayed stone steps leads up to an ornate round-arched first-floor entrance with wrought-iron gates and fan screen, in a portico of paired Ionic columns supporting a dentiled entablature. Above this, to the second floor, is a balustraded balcony accessed from a further round-arched doorway flanked by paired Composite and Tuscan columns supporting a dentiled entablature and triangular pediment. The richly-carved tympanum includes the Dewsbury Seal featuring the St Paulinus Cross (hereafter the Dewsbury Seal). The central bay is surmounted by a large two-tier clock tower with domed top and cupola. The first tier has a round-arched opening to each face surmounted by a triangular pediment on paired Composite columns. There is a large urn to each corner. The second tier has a clock to each face surmounted by a segmental pediment.

The outer bays also break forward slightly. At ground-floor level, the left-hand bay has an inserted public entranceway (formerly a window). At second-floor level, there are narrow balustraded balconies with round-arched doorways flanked by Composite columns supporting a dentiled entablature and triangular pediment with a richly-carved tympanum. These are in turn flanked by empty niches and Tuscan columns. The outer bays, plus the two rounded corner bays are each surmounted by French-type pavilion roofs with iron rails and segmental pedimented dormers. There is also a balustraded parapet.

NORTH ELEVATION: the Wakefield Road elevation (to the north) is of 15 bays and has similar features to the principal elevation, with square-headed windows to the ground and first floor, and round-headed windows to the second floor with keystones and an impost band, and dentiled eaves cornice. There is a prominent slope downwards from left to right, and the ground floor is either completely or partially sunken as a result of the lie of the land. An ornate wrought-iron railing mounted on a low stone wall safeguards the ground-floor windows and lightwells.

The central three bays break forward slightly and are rusticated at ground- and first-floor levels, with vermiculated quoins at ground-floor level. A set of stone steps lead up to a round-arched first-floor entrance with a broken segmental pediment. A later iron and glass canopy (first shown on the OS map 1:2500 1933 edition) extends across the three bays and incorporates the sign ‘WAKEFIELD ROAD ENTRANCE’. To the second floor, three round-headed windows are separated by paired Composite pilasters, in turn flanked by outer Tuscan pilasters. The central three bays are surmounted by a French-type pavilion roof with iron rails, a triangular-pedimented dormer and a balustrade.

The outer bays have similar features to the outer bays of the principal elevation, incorporating round-arched doorways with narrow balustraded balconies at second-floor level and pavilion roofs. The left-hand outer bay (north-east end) has a square-headed doorway at first-floor level flanked to the left by the foundation stone, which reads: ‘THIS STONE WAS LAID / BY / THOMAS BATEMAN FOX, / ALDERMAN & MAYOR / OF THE BOROUGH, / OCTOBER 12TH. 1886. / TREVOR C. EDWARDS, HENRY HOLTOM, / TOWN CLERK. ARCHITECT.’

SOUTH/SOUTH-EAST ELEVATION: the Town Hall Way elevation (to the south/south-east) is of ashlar and plainer in style than the other two elevations, with the exception of the left-hand bay (south-west end) which takes the form of the outer bays to the principal elevations. It has a varied roofline, with square-headed windows to the ground and first floor, round-headed windows with keystones and an impost band to the second floor and projecting bracketed sills at first- and second-floor levels. There is also a bracketed eaves cornice. The central block is taller and has four long windows at second-floor level with sunken aprons (the Council Chamber). The right-hand block (south-east end) is of two storeys and has five long windows at first-floor level (the courthouse). There are three square-headed doorways to this side of the building.

REAR ELEVATION: from the rear of the building it is possible to see the distinct elements in the building’s plan. It slopes downwards from right to left and is largely of rock-faced stonework with ashlar details. To the left (south-east end), is a prominent ashlar staircase tower (providing access to the public gallery of the courthouse) at the rear of the south/south-east wing. This wing incorporates a series of segmental windows with iron bars at ground-floor level (former police cells). To the centre is a large block with a hipped roof and blank upper storeys (Victoria Hall), which has square-headed windows with round-headed windows above to its side elevations. To the right is the rear of the north wing, which has similar features to the principal elevations.

INTERIOR: the public entrance to the ground floor leads into a reception foyer and exhibition space with various offices and stores beyond. Directly below the first-floor entrance vestibule is a strong room with a Milners’ Patent Thief-Resisting door with brass fittings. A dog-leg staircase with cast-iron balusters and newel posts, and a timber handrail, leads up to the first-floor level.

The first-floor main entrance vestibule (providing access to Market Place) is faced in ashlar with a domed ceiling. It has a mosaic-tiled floor incorporating the Dewsbury Seal, geometric-patterned borders and floral details. There are two large brass dedication plaques mounted on the walls. A pair of round-arched double doorways provide access to the first-floor hallway. The doorways have moulded keystones, imposts and pilasters, with a red marble Ionic column between them. They are fitted with oak panelled doors with fanlights, stained-glass and painted-glass panels, and brass door furniture. Above the two doors is a carving of the Dewsbury Seal.

The first-floor hallway is faced in ashlar with Tuscan pilasters, dado rails and skirtings. It has an ornate plaster ceiling supported on paired red marble Tuscan columns with ashlar bases and a mosaic-tiled floor with geometric-patterned borders and floral details. There are two stained- and painted-glass windows. The one to the left depicts aspects of Dewsbury’s trade, shopping, and transport on a background of a street map of the town centre in the 1950s. It was unveiled on 1 May 1952. The one to the right illustrates the coats of arms of the various Lords of the Manor of Dewsbury back to Edward the Confessor. A pair of round-arched doorways with moulded keystones and panelled oak double doors with fanlights above provide access to the Victoria Hall. The doors have stained- and painted-glass panels, and brass door furniture. The Victoria Hall itself, accessed from a short corridor with oak dado panelling and stained- and painted-glass windows, is open to the roof with a stage at the east end. It has an ornate coved plaster ceiling and a horseshoe balcony with a decorated front.

Corridors to the north and south/south-east wings provide access to several offices and meeting rooms. These include (to the south/south-east wing), the Members’ Room, which has a red marble fireplace with oak overmantel and dado panelling, and a series of individually framed photographs of the former mayors of Dewsbury mounted above the dado rail. At the far end of the south/south-east wing is the courthouse. The courthouse is open to the roof and has a decorated plaster cornice with a central ceiling rose with a ventilation grill. It has a series of large round-headed windows with keystones and an impost band to the south/south-east side. The bench is to the west and the public gallery is to the east, together with the dock, court officials’ desks, well of the court, witness box and reporters’ desks. A cast-iron staircase leads down from the dock to the cells at ground-floor level, which are lined with white glazed tiles. The staircase tower to the rear of the courthouse has an open-string staircase with stone treads, cast-iron balusters and newel posts, and a timber handrail.

The dog-leg staircase from the first to the second floor has stone treads, large ashlar newel posts, ashlar balusters and wide red marble handrails. The second-floor hallway is embellished with Corinthian pilasters, oak dado panelling and an ornate plaster ceiling supported on Corinthian columns. There is a mosaic-tiled floor with borders and floral details, and a large Venetian stained- and painted-glass window depicting St Paulinus preaching Christianity on the bank of the river Calder in 627 AD. The side panels show King Edwin and Queen Ethelburga. Two additional stained- and painted-glass windows depict Commerce and Science. Above the staircase is a painted-glass roof light bearing the Dewsbury Seal in a coved surround. A pair of round-arched doorways with panelled oak double doors with fanlights above provide access to the Victoria Hall balcony. The doors have painted- and stained-glass panels, and brass door furniture. A further series of oak doorways with triangular pediments and panelled doors lead from the second-floor hallway to the Ceremony Room, Mayor’s Parlour and Mayor’s Reception Room. These large, formal rooms have oak dado panelling, oak fireplace surrounds with elaborately carved overmantels, oak doorways with triangular pediments and panelled doors, as well as ornate plaster ceilings. The Mayor’s Parlour has an oak-panelled alcove with seating to the right-hand side of the fireplace.

A short corridor to the south/south-east wing provides access to the Council Chamber which has an ornate coved plaster ceiling, oak panelling below the windows, and oak doorways with triangular and broken pediments. An oak canopy is mounted on the south/south-east side wall.


Dewsbury obtained its charter of incorporation in 1862. On 8 April 1886, 16 years after a suitable site had been purchased, the corporation approved plans for a new town hall. The appointed architects were Henry Holtom and George Arthur Fox, and the builders were Messrs Edward Chadwick and Sons of Staincliffe. The building is in the ‘Mixed Renaissance’ style, and the designs brought together a large and varying number of uses into a single building, including municipal offices and departments, borough court, police station, exchange hall and main hall, which would seat 1,250 people. It cost between £40,000 and £50,000 to build, with the building stone being transported from the Holmfirth quarries.

The foundation stone was laid on 12 October 1886 by Mayor Thomas Bateman Fox (1884-1887). The day was declared a half holiday, and the streets in the centre of the town were lavishly decorated to mark the occasion. A bottle containing newspapers and coins was placed underneath the stone. Around three years later, Dewsbury Town Hall was formally opened on 17 September 1889 by Mayor John Walker (1888-1889). This day was declared a general holiday and the streets were once again decorated in celebration. The mayor, members of the corporation and other officials processed through the Market Place to the town hall whereupon a gold key, supplied by Messrs Kaye and Sons of Leeds, was presented to Alderman Thomas Bateman Fox, who ceremoniously unlocked the front gates of the building. The celebrations ran throughout the day, and the key was later presented to Mayor John Walker, as a memento.

The turret clock and bells in the tower were a gift from Mayor Mark Oldroyd MP (1887-1888) and the clock was supplied by William Potts and Son of Leeds. The stained- and painted-glass windows of St Paulinus with King Edwin and Queen Ethelburga were designed by Lawrence Scott and made by Winfield’s Ltd of Birmingham, the figure of Commerce was also designed by Scott and made by Pape of Leeds, and another representing Science was by the Powell Brothers. They were gifted by John Wormald, John Tweedale, Charles Henry Marriott, the Dewsbury Chamber of Commerce and the Dewsbury Tradesmen’s Association. The window donated by the Dewsbury Tradesmen’s Association was destroyed in 1940 during the Second World War and replaced in 1952 by a window presented by the Chamber of Trade, made by J Stansfield. Purpose-built oak furniture, some of which bears the Dewsbury Seal featuring the St Paulinus Cross, was also made for the town hall and still stands in the main rooms of the building.

King George V and Queen Mary visited the town hall in 1912 and again in 1918, to show their appreciation for the manufacture of shoddy cloth for First World War army uniforms.

Henry Holtom (d 1901) was born in Stratford-upon-Avon and moved to Dewsbury when he was in his early 20s, later becoming a local councillor and then Mayor of Dewsbury from 1883-1884. Holtom first formed an architectural partnership in Dewsbury with William Bulmer in 1865, but his partnership was dissolved in 1870 and Holtom was joined by John Wreghitt Connon (1849-1921) until Connon’s retirement in 1883. Holtom subsequently formed a partnership with George Arthur Fox (b 1854) who also went on to become Mayor of Dewsbury in 1895-1896 and ran the firm from 1890 after Holtom left. The partnerships of Holtom and Connon and Holtom and Fox designed many buildings in and around Dewsbury, including the Grade II-listed former Co-Operative Society Building (Pioneer House). Holtom and Fox also designed the nearby Grade I-listed Morley Town Hall (1892-1895) and the Grade II-listed Burnley Town Hall (1884-1888).

Reasons for Listing

Dewsbury Town Hall, built from 1886 to 1889 by Henry Holtom and George Arthur Fox of Dewsbury in ‘Mixed Renaissance’ style, is listed at Grade II* for the following principal reasons:

Architectural interest:

* a highly impressive town hall in a key location at the head of the historic marketplace in Dewsbury, with main elevations to Market Place and Wakefield Road featuring a grand entrance portico and tower (to Market Place) and French-style pavilion roofs;
* for its opulent interiors, including ornate plaster ceilings, carved stonework, oak panelling and joinery, mosaic floors and painted- and stained-glass windows, and incorporating the civic symbolism of the Dewsbury Seal featuring the St Paulinus Cross;
* as an excellent example of a town hall with a combined function as municipal offices and departments, borough court, police station and main hall, embodying the emergence of well-organised local government in the C19;
* it is one of the best works of the notable local architects’ firm of Holtom and Fox, who have several listed buildings to their name.

Historic interest:

* it reflects the rapid growth and development of the town of Dewsbury in the C19 as the centre of the Heavy Woollen District, and its increasing status and wealth.

External Links

External links are from the relevant listing authority and, where applicable, Wikidata. Wikidata IDs may be related buildings as well as this specific building. If you want to add or update a link, you will need to do so by editing the Wikidata entry.

Recommended Books

Other nearby listed buildings

BritishListedBuildings.co.uk is an independent online resource and is not associated with any government department. All government data published here is used under licence. Please do not contact BritishListedBuildings.co.uk for any queries related to any individual listed building, planning permission related to listed buildings or the listing process itself.

British Listed Buildings is a Good Stuff website.