Birkenhead Town Hall
|Birkenhead Town Hall|
|Address||Hamilton Street, Birkenhead,
Merseyside, CH41 5BR
|Height||200 ft (clock tower)|
|Design and construction|
|Architecture firm||C O Ellison & Son|
Birkenhead Town Hall is a town hall and former civic building in Birkenhead, on the Wirral Peninsula, England. The building was the former administrative headquarters of the County Borough of Birkenhead, and more recently, council offices for the Metropolitan Borough of Wirral. Birkenhead Town Hall remains the location of the town's register office. However, since the closure of the Wirral Museum in 2010, the future purpose of the Grade II* listed building is uncertain.
When Hamilton Square was designed in the early 19th century, a plot of land was made available for the siting of a town hall between Hamilton Street and Chester Street. However, it wasn't until 1887 that the current building was completed. Designed by local architect Charles Ellison in 1882, the building was constructed using Scottish granite and sandstone from the now filled in local quarry at Storeton.
The building consisted of a council chamber, offices, with a concert hall and function rooms known as the Assembly Rooms. Birkenhead's magistrates' court chambers are located in a separate building of the same design to the rear. The clock tower is 200 feet in height and consists of four faces. After a fire in 1901, the upper part of the clock tower was rebuilt to a design by Henry Hartley. The rebuilding included a stained glass window by Gilbert P. Gamon representing Edward I's visit to Birkenhead Priory in 1277.
Despite the abolition of the County Borough of Birkenhead on 1 April 1974, the building continued to be used as council offices until the early 1990s, when work was undertaken to restore the external stonework and many interior decorations and features, including the former council chamber.
The Wirral Archives Service was based in the building until 2008, when it transferred to the council's Cheshire Lines Building nearby. The service collects and stores all types of historical documents relating to the Wirral area, its people, businesses and institutions. Amongst the records in the collection are documents and photographs from Birkenhead's Cammell Laird shipyard, when the original company closed in 1993.
Between 2001 and 2010, the Wirral Museum occupied a significant portion of the building. It featured both themed and permanent exhibits such as the history and development of Wirral, the Cammell Laird collection, the Wirral Silver and Mayoral collections, Della Robbia Pottery and a detailed scale model of the historic Woodside area in 1934.
Birkenhead Town Hall still retains some civic service, such as the municipal registration centre for births, marriages and deaths and as a venue for local and national elections. It is also utilised for the celebration of notable occasions and as the town's focal point for annual Remembrance Sunday ceremonies.
The Assembly Rooms have been made available for functions, events and as a venue for the arts, including concerts, theatrical performances and cinema presentations.
In 2009 owners Wirral Borough Council advertised the building for sale or lease, as part of its Strategic Asset Review. The council has invited "expressions of interest from individuals and organisations who can demonstrate that they can secure a sustainable use for this important building."
The council proposals also involved the possible closure of up to eleven libraries, some sports and leisure facilities and the planned sale of the Wirral Transport Museum, the Shore Road Pumping Station museum and the Pacific Road Arts Centre.
- Central Birkenhead, Metropolitan Borough of Wirral, retrieved 31 March 2009
- Brocklebank, Ralph T. (2003), Birkenhead: An Illustrated History, Breedon Books, p. 38, ISBN 1-85983-350-0
- Wirral Museum (Birkenhead Town Hall), Wirral Learning Grid, retrieved 15 September 2007
- Wirral Museum, Culture 24, retrieved 31 March 2009
- The Former Birkenhead Town Hall: Building, retrieved 30 June 2010
- Wirral Archives Service, Metropolitan Borough of Wirral, retrieved 30 June 2010
- Historic town hall goes on sale, BBC News, 8 May 2009, retrieved 3 June 2009
- Birkenhead’s historic former town hall "for sale", Wirral News, 13 May 2009, retrieved 3 June 2009
- Wanted: New owner for Birkenhead Town Hall, Wirral Globe, 8 May 2009, retrieved 3 June 2009
- Council approves Strategic Asset Review, Metropolitan Borough of Wirral, 16 January 2009, retrieved 3 June 2009[dead link]