Barnsley Town Hall
Barnsley Town Hall is the seat of local government in the Metropolitan Borough of Barnsley. The Borough's local government was last reorganised in 1986 when the South Yorkshire County Council was abolished. The former County Council was located in offices on Kendray Street, the main part of which is due for demolition as part of a major redevelopment programme.
The foundation stone of Barnsley Town Hall was laid on 21 April 1932 and was opened by His Royal Highness Edward, Prince of Wales on 14 December 1933. The cost of construction of the town hall and of furnishing the new seat of local government was £188,037 12/10d. George Orwell in his book The Road to Wigan Pier was highly critical of this expenditure, and claimed that the council should have spent the money on improving the housing and living conditions of the local miners. " Orwell spent a number of days in the town living in the houses of the working-class miners while researching for the book.
Every evening blue fluorescent lights are turned on in the room in the spire, leading to the Barnsley rumour that the mayor has a sunbed.
Barnsley Town Hall bears more than a passing resemblance to the Parliament Buildings of Northern Ireland, Stormont, and, like Stormont, its façade is sculpted in Portland stone. This is doubtless because both buildings share the same architect, Sir Arnold Thornely.
Since the abolition of the County Council, only a small number of council departments are based in the town hall, most of the offices having been distributed around the town centre. In 2006 the Council are building new offices on Westgate to the West of the Town Hall to accommodate 700 staff.
The structure can be seen from the M1, to the west of Barnsley.
In June 2013, part of the town hall became Experience Barnsley, a museum dedicated to the history of the town and its people. The museums collection is built up from objects and stories donated and loaned by local residents.
Exhibits include area social history, archaeology and Roman history, coal mining and other industries, and the history of the town hall and local civic government. The archives document the history of the borough from the 12th to 21st centuries.
- A Kind of Compulsion, p558, Notes for The Road to Wigan Pier : " total cost of new Town hall was £148,697 and was incurred at a time when the town admittedly needed over 2000 houses, not to mention public baths."
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