Harrogate Council Offices
|Harrogate Council Offices|
|Architectural style(s)||Neoclassical style|
The council offices were commissioned to replace the old town hall in Swan Road which had been built in 1805.[a] After finding that the old town hall was too cramped, civic leaders at Harrogate Borough Council decided to procure new council offices: the site they selected had been occupied by the old Victoria Baths which had been dismantled by the engineer, Samson Fox, and moved to his home, Grove House.
The new building was designed by Leonard Clarke, built at a cost of £40,000 and opened by Philip Cunliffe-Lister MP, the President of the Board of Trade, on 31 October 1931. The design involved a symmetrical main frontage with 28 bays facing onto the Crescent Gardens with the end bays slightly projected forwards; the central section of three bays, which also slightly projected forward, featured a doorway with a stone surround on the ground floor and the borough coat of arms above; there were three windows of the first floor flanked by Corinthian order columns with an entablature inscribed with the borough motto "Arx Celebris Fontibus" (English: A citadel famous for its springs) and a pediment above. Internally, the principal rooms were the council chamber, the mayor's parlour and the committee rooms.
Princess Elizabeth, accompanied by the Duke of Edinburgh, entered at the council offices and signed the visitor's book during a tour of the West Riding of Yorkshire in July 1949. In the 1980s a bunker was constructed under the building to protect civic leaders in the event of a nuclear attack.
After the council decided to procure a new civic centre in February 2015, a new building, which was designed by Farrell and Clark and built by Harry Fairclough (Construction) Limited at a cost of £11.5 million, was opened at Knapping Mount in November 2017. The council offices at Crescent Gardens were marketed by estate agents in January 2015, but discussions with the initial preferred bidder broke down after the bidder failed to submit a planning application on a timely basis. The building was then re-marketed and sold to another developer, Impala Estates, in January 2020. Impala Estates revealed proposals to convert the building into offices, together with a gym and a roof garden restaurant, in October 2020.
- The building in Swan Road had originally been designed as assembly rooms and opened in 1805; the building was rebuilt to a design by J. Hiscox in the Neoclassical style and re-opened as a theatre in 1875. It hosted various well-known performers such as the actresses, Sarah Bernhardt and Lillie Langtry, as well as the playwright, Oscar Wilde. Following the incorporation of Harrogate as a borough in 1884, the building became the local town hall in 1900. Once the council offices had been completed in 1931, the old town hall became the rates and housing benefits office and, in 1985, it was converted to serve as the new Mercer Art Gallery, named after the watercolour painter, Sidney Agnew Mercer.
- Historic England. "Old Town Hall (1293862)". National Heritage List for England. Retrieved 14 November 2020.
- "History of the Mercer Art Gallery". Harrogate Borough Council. Retrieved 14 November 2020.
- "The Victorian Borough (1884-1914)". Harrogate People and Places. Retrieved 14 November 2020.
- "Plaque: Harrogate Council Offices". Harrogate Borough Council. 1983. Retrieved 14 November 2020.
- "£40,000 New Offices for Harrogate Corporation". Leeds Mercury. 2 November 1931. p. 2.
- Neesam, Malcolm (20 October 2017). "Farewell to Crescent Gardens". Harrogate Advertiser. Retrieved 14 November 2020.
- "As Queen turns 94, rare photos recall her time in Yorkshire". Yorkshire Post. 21 April 2020. Retrieved 14 November 2020.
- "New £9m Harrogate Council office set to get green light". BBC News. 27 February 2015. Retrieved 14 November 2020.
- "Final build cost for new Civic Centre revealed". The Stray Ferret. 14 March 2020. Retrieved 14 November 2020.
- "New Civic Centre handed over to Harrogate Borough Council". Harrogate News. 7 November 2017. Retrieved 14 November 2020.
- "Landmark multi-million pound Harrogate council offices up for sale". Wetherby News. 16 January 2015. Retrieved 14 November 2020.
- "What controversial developer says about Crescent Gardens in Harrogate in full". Ripon Gazette. 5 August 2019. Retrieved 14 November 2020.
- "Council completes sale of former offices, Crescent Gardens". Harrogate News. 13 January 2020. Retrieved 14 November 2020.
- "Lib Dems criticise Harrogate council on Crescent Gardens sale". Harrogate Advertiser. 20 January 2020. Retrieved 14 November 2020.
- "Developer reveals plans for Harrogate Council's former offices". Yorkshire Post. 14 October 2020. Retrieved 14 November 2020.