Berkhamsted Civic Centre

Coordinates: 51°45′36″N 0°33′50″W / 51.7601°N 0.5640°W / 51.7601; -0.5640
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Berkhamsted Civic Centre
Berkhamsted Civic Centre
LocationHigh Street, Berkhamsted
Coordinates51°45′36″N 0°33′50″W / 51.7601°N 0.5640°W / 51.7601; -0.5640
ArchitectJohn Hadfield
Architectural style(s)Neo-Georgian style
Berkhamsted Civic Centre is located in Hertfordshire
Berkhamsted Civic Centre
Shown in Hertfordshire

Berkhamsted Civic Centre is a municipal building in the High Street in Berkhamsted in Hertfordshire, England. The structure accommodates the offices and meeting place of Berkhamsted Town Council.


In the 19th century, the main municipal building in the town was Berkhamsted Town Hall.[1] After it was formed in 1898, Great Berkhampstead Urban District Council (as it was initially called) met in the local workhouse. In 1908 the council bought at auction the premises of a local building contractor, William Nash & Son, for the sum of £2,300. These premises comprised a house facing High Street, behind which was a former Wesleyan Chapel (by then used as a workshop), with a large yard and other outbuildings. These premises were converted to serve as the council's offices and meeting place, with the former chapel becoming the council chamber.[2][3][4][5] In the early 1930s, after the council decided it needed more office space, it acquired the adjacent fishmonger's shop and demolished both buildings.[5] The new civic centre was designed by the council surveyor, John Hadfield, in the Neo-Georgian style, built in red brick with stone dressings and was officially opened by the chairman of the council, Councillor Walter Pitkin, on 14 October 1938.[6][7]

The design involved a symmetrical main frontage with seven bays facing onto the High Street; the central bay, which slightly projected forward, featured a round headed entrance with brick voussoirs, a keystone, wrought iron gates and a deeply recessed doorway inside. There was a wrought iron balconet and French door on the first floor, flanked by pilasters supporting an open pediment, while the other bays were fenestrated by sash windows on both floors. Internally, the principal rooms were a courtroom on the ground floor and a council meeting room on the first floor.[8]

The council maintained garaging behind the civic centre for the local fire engines until 1969, when the fire service moved to Castle Street.[9] The civic centre continued to serve as the local seat of government until the enlarged Dacorum Borough Council was formed in 1974.[10] The courtroom was subsequently converted into an assembly hall and the council meeting room became the offices and meeting place of Berkhamsted Town Council.[11] In the 1980s and 1990s, the civic centre was a significant events venue: the rock band, Marillion, performed their first concert there in 1980,[12] the jazz singer, Elaine Delmar, performed there in 1986,[13] and the American jazz tenor saxophonist, Scott Hamilton, took part in a BBC concert, which was broadcast from there, in 1998.[14] Also, the Master of the Queen's Music, Malcolm Williamson, delivered at least one premiere of his works at the civic centre in the 1980s.[15][16]

A wooden sign bearing the coat of arms of the town was presented by the Berkhamsted Citizens Association and erected on the pavement outside the civic centre in 1983.[17] The garaging behind the civic centre, previously used by the fire service, was converted into a museum store for Dacorum Heritage in 1994.[18]


  1. ^ Historic England. "The Old Town Hall, Berkhamsted (1078138)". National Heritage List for England. Retrieved 19 July 2020.
  2. ^ "Berkhamsted: Urban Council's Enterprise - An important development". Watford Observer. 29 August 1908. p. 7. Retrieved 25 April 2022.
  3. ^ "Sales by auction". Bucks Herald. Aylesbury. 22 August 1908. p. 4. Retrieved 25 April 2022.
  4. ^ Berkhamsted Through Time. Amberley Publishing. 2013. ISBN 978-1445626864.
  5. ^ a b "Berkhamsted Civic Centre". Rectory Lane Cemetery. Retrieved 28 March 2022.
  6. ^ Berkhamsted Newsletter, Bucks Examiner (Chesham), 2 October 1936, page 3
  7. ^ The Civic Centre opened, Bucks Examiner (Chesham), 21 October 1938, page 7
  8. ^ "Berkhamsted Civic Centre". Berkhamsted Town Council. Retrieved 28 March 2022.
  9. ^ "Berkhamsted Fire Station". Fire Retrieved 28 March 2022.
  10. ^ Local Government Act 1972. 1972 c.70. The Stationery Office Ltd. 1997. ISBN 0-10-547072-4.
  11. ^ "Berkhamsted Civic Centre". Berhamsted Town Council. Retrieved 28 March 2022.
  12. ^ Mick Wall (1987). Market Square Heroes – The Authorised Story of Marillion. Sidgwick & Jackson Ltd. p. 28. ISBN 978-0-283-99426-5.
  13. ^ "Singer Elaine Delmar performing at Berkhamsted Civic Centre, Hertfordshire, 1986". National Jazz Archive. Retrieved 28 March 2022.
  14. ^ Concerts. Jazz Journal International. 2002. p. 13. Retrieved 28 March 2022.
  15. ^ Meredith, Anthony; Harris, Paul (2007). Malcolm Williamson: A Mischievous Muse. Omnibus. p. 423. ISBN 978-1847721020. The work (which, significantly, he dedicated to Bessie [his mother]), was given its first performance at a concert Malcolm and Elizabeth Poston organised at the Berkhamsted Civic Centre to celebrate Simon [Campion]'s 50th birthday
  16. ^ "A very public embarrassment". The Daily Telegraph. 3 November 2007. Retrieved 28 March 2022.
  17. ^ "The Late Nancy Rhind" (PDF). The Citizen. 1 December 1999. Retrieved 28 March 2022.
  18. ^ "History of the Trust". The Dacorum Heritage Trust Ltd. Archived from the original on 6 February 2018. Retrieved 6 February 2018.