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Acton Town Hall

A Grade II Listed Building in South Acton, London

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Coordinates

Latitude: 51.5061 / 51°30'21"N

Longitude: -0.2676 / 0°16'3"W

OS Eastings: 520333

OS Northings: 179995

OS Grid: TQ203799

Mapcode National: GBR 8R.WRG

Mapcode Global: VHGQX.9DXS

Plus Code: 9C3XGP4J+CX

Entry Name: Acton Town Hall

Listing Date: 20 November 2003

Grade: II

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1390770

English Heritage Legacy ID: 491387

ID on this website: 101390770

Location: Acton, Ealing, London, W3

County: London

District: Ealing

Electoral Ward/Division: South Acton

Parish: Non Civil Parish

Built-Up Area: Ealing

Traditional County: Middlesex

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Greater London

Church of England Parish: St Mary Acton

Church of England Diocese: London

Tagged with: City hall Baroque architecture Seat of local government

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North Acton

Description



962/0/10083 Acton Town Hall
20-NOV-03

GV II
Former Acton Town Hall, now municipal offices. 1909-10 to the designs of Raffles and Gridley, borough engineer and surveyor D J Ebbetts; extended 1938-9 by W G Cross, Borough Engineer and Architect; W Leicester job architect with Robert Atkinson as consultant. Portland stone and local red brick (by George Wright of Acton) with concrete floors, tower and roof. Green Westmorland slate roof to older part, with stone and brick banded chimneys. Copper roof to 1930s extension. Three storeys and basement, with clock tower facing High Street. Complex 'E' shaped plan following the line of the streets. The original building was designed to be extended - above or to the side, and the additions to the side reflect the intentions and respect the form of the older work. Front range of the 'E' contains assembly hall with stage and balcony set over offices; rear stem of the 'E' has council chamber on first floor; offices in the rest of the building.

Old Building. Seven-bay symmetrical frontage to Winchester Street in the style of a Baroque palazzo, with stone ground floor forming a rusticated plinth to piano nobile above; brick banding to second floor under dentilled eaves. Flanking bays set forward under gables inset with cartouche and with rusticated quoins. Tripartite sash windows to ground and second floors; casements to first floor; ground and first-floor windows set under heavy keystones and first floor also with stone aprons - all windows in stone surrounds. Central segmental-arched doorcase with engaged Roman Doric columns set forward of square pilasters and with keystone to round-arch containing wrought ironwork and double doors. This entrance reached via stone bridge over area; wrought-iron railings by Whiteside and Carlake of Edmonton an integral part of the composition. Side elevation to Salisbury Street has Venetian window to council chamber; a similar window to internal courtyard on the other side. Council chamber has separate pyramidal roof topped by a cupola.

Interior has offices in two wings on ground and first floors, those at rear linked by spiral staircase. Entrance hall is simple, with terrazzo floor and memorials to those officials who died in the Great War. Further offices and former staff flat on second floor, and many offices retain original timber fireplaces, now blocked. Those to first floor are more elaborate, and that to former Clerk's office has columns - this room also has a decorative plaster ceiling; other rooms just have cornices. Terrazzo floors to corridors, and double timber doors at top of stairs. Artificial stone stairs with marble dado and cast-iron balustrade surround under decorated plaster ceiling. First-floor council chamber to (quieter) rear of site has ornamental fibrous plaster ceiling, cove and cornice by Gilbert Seale of Camberwell, supported on parian artificial stone columns and pilasters. Austrian oak dado. The room always had a flat floor; alcove at rear formerly housed the public gallery, reached via separate access from Salisbury Street; a second door is marked 'For Members Only'.

New Building.
Six bays to Winchester Street respect the style of the earlier building, continuing its materials, mouldings and railings, with flat-topped architrave surrounds to first-floor windows. Three-bay skewed corner elevation has three first-floor windows under segmental pediments, under high flat parapet inscribed TOWN HALL, ERECTED MCMXXXIX, GEORGIUS VI REX. Second floor windows pivot on this elevation. Elevation to High Street is asymmetrical, a 2 - 3 - 4 - 1 bay composition with broad blind bay to eastern end (containing the stage house to the assembly hall). Three-bay 'centrepiece' containing principal entrance under first-floor balcony and set-back picture window, borough coat of arms and set-back clock tower, all in Portland stone and in a very austere Scandinavian style. Double doors to balcony and flanking windows all with small steel panes and armorial glass. Three tiny attic windows in lowest of the three storeys of the clock tower, and louvres and clockfaces on uppermost part under copper roof with acorn finial. Rear elevations have flat-topped casement windows in flush stone surrounds.

Interior. The interior of the 1938-9 wing is dominated by the main staircase, walled with travertine marble under deep coves, with steel, bronze and patterned glass balustrade to travertine Imperial staircase. Circular light fittings inset into round ceiling coves. Figured panelled doors. The whole is a grand public space in the best 1930s' tradition. Assembly hall, with stage set within slightly curved proscenium frame and dressing rooms, is lined in Indian greywood to sill level, sprung floor and balcony with fixed seating. Inset lighting to sides and in main ceiling; ventilation grilles seet in soffits.

Adjoining the assembly hall is the former reception room, panelled in sycamore to ceiling height and consequently originally known as the Sycamore Room. Folding doors link the reception room to the main foyer. Corridors either side of the staircase on ground floor and to west on first floor arre screened by double glazed doors set in glazed surrounds, all with small steel panes. The principal rooms retain panelling to doorhead height, while former committee rooms on first floor - panelled in walnut, light and dark oak respectively, but now in office use - have opaque glass double doors with deco mouldings.

Acton Town Hall was the product of two public competitions, in 1903 and 1907; minor scandals following the first competition meant that the building had to be a simple, low-budget affair to appease the ratepayers. It shows the influence of R Norman Shaw, assessor to the second competition, and was always intended to be extended. 'Surely, nowhere in England has such an edifice been erected, and for such a price', proclaimed the Middlesex Chronicle for 12 March 1910. Robert Atkinson was one of the leading private architects from the late 1930s to specialise in public commissions, and the main entrance shows his influence and use of good materials in a simple, Scandinavian-inspired fashion. A harmonious juxtaposition of Edwardian and 1930s styles, both of good quality and demonstrative of civic architecture across the first half of the twentieth century. 'This palazzo-style edifice, executed in locally made red bricks with Portland-stone dressings, emobided a fitting degree of civic pride┬┐ Cross, the executant architect, succeeded in harmonising the new with the old, in style, materials and planning' (Smith).

Sources
Building News, 24 March 1903
Building News, 10 January 1903
Souvenir Brochure, New Public Offices, Acton UDC, 10 March 1910
Middlesex Chronicle, 12 March 1910
The Builder, 7 July 1939
J Beasley, Architectural Survey of Central Acton, unpublished, 1956
Joanna Smith, ed., London's Town Halls, English Heritage, 1999, p.41


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