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Latitude: 51.6135 / 51°36'48"N
Longitude: -0.1581 / 0°9'29"W
OS Eastings: 527627
OS Northings: 192125
OS Grid: TQ276921
Mapcode National: GBR DQ.SZX
Mapcode Global: VHGQD.6PRY
Entry Name: Former Friern Barnet Town Hall
Listing Date: 2 July 2002
Source: Historic England
Source ID: 1360822
English Heritage Legacy ID: 489583
Location: Barnet, London, N11
Electoral Ward/Division: Coppetts
Built-Up Area: Barnet
Traditional County: Middlesex
Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Greater London
Church of England Parish: St James the Great Friern Barnet
Church of England Diocese: London
31/0/10426 FRIERN BARNET LANE
02-JUL-02 Friern Barnet
Former Friern Barnet Town Hall
Former Friern Barnet Town Hall. 1939-41 by Sir John Brown and A.E. Henson.
MATERIALS: Load-bearing brown brick, Ketton stone dressings, metal windows and lantern, slate roof.
PLAN: concave plan with rear projection containing former council chamber.
EXTERIOR: 11- bay front of three storeys, with central entrance porch to double doors of bronze, with cross motifs to centre of panels. All windows retain metal (Crittall) frames, three-light to ground floor, twelve-light to first floor, six-light to second floor, with narrow stone surrounds and hoods. Projecting stone balcony at first floor level, with coffered underside and ornamental iron railings; heraldic shield to centre over door. Copper lantern to centre of roof ridge with clock on octagonal base, circular lantern above with stars on frieze, star-shaped finial over gilded orb above. Side and rear elevations are plainer.
INTERIOR: polished Hopton Wood limestone-lined walls to ground floor and staircase. Entrance lobby with wartime savings plaques in white Bakerlite. Inscription re foundation on wall of foyer. Double staircase with risers of Plymouth marble, bronze hand rails, panels of etched glass between rails; two slender hexagonal columns clad in green Cipollino marble, with stylized plaster capitals; coffered ceiling above. Former council chamber at half-landing level with screen of panelled etched glass, panelled rooms on either side of lobby. Top-lit chamber with etched glass roof matching screen; pair of wood-sheathed slender columns either side of entrance; recessed arch to rear wall with meander pattern decoration to underside. First floor retains its panelled committee rooms with double doors; offices on north side of corridor and on second floor are plainer. Secondary staircases at either end of concave block with metal Art Deco railings with bronze handrails. Basement retains its wartime Civil Defence 'nerve centre', with a 'Cyclone' air purification system and air-tight doors to some rooms, wartime murals of fire-fighters and Winston Churchill in one room.
HISTORY: Friern Barnet had become an Urban District Council in 1895. A competition for new civic premises, assessed by C. Cowles Voysey, was held in 1937: the winning design was much influenced by Voysey and Brandon-Jones's Watford Town Hall, designed in 1935. The foundation stone is dated 16th September 1939; the hoppers, 1940. Work on the town hall continued after the outbreak of war, as it housed a large air raid shelter capable of housing up to 600 persons and a control centre for local civil defence. This opened in July 1940: the town hall as a whole was opened on 16th June 1941. Friern Barnet ceased to be an independent borough in 1965, from when the building was used for council offices. Little altered, the building is a good example of pared-down modernism, showing clear European influences, but executed in traditional materials and techniques, and with elements of neo-Georgian as well. Its unusual date of construction (cf. Walthamstow Town Hall), the extent of survival, its subtle form and pronounced sense of civic pride mark it out as an exceptional civic building, on this scale, of its day.
SOURCES: Friern Barnet UDC Minutes; Architects' Journal 8 July 1937 and 24 September 1942; RCHME, London's Town Halls (1999), 36.
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