Sutton Coldfield Town Hall
|Sutton Coldfield Council House|
The front façade of Sutton Town Hall with the clock tower at the end
|Former names||Royal Hotel|
|Alternative names||Station Hotel|
|Address||King Edwards Square|
|Town or city||Sutton Coldfield, Birmingham|
|Designations||Grade A locally listed|
The town hall's position on the edge of a steep slope means that it has views over large areas of south Sutton Coldfield whilst the northern area remains at the same or similar gradient.
Municipal buildings in Sutton Coldfield
A moot hall was built in Sutton Coldfield during the time of John Vesey, Bishop of Exeter, at a site at the top of Mill Street. It was demolished following structural instability caused by the collapse of an upper floor due to the weight of crowds attending the funeral of Thomas Dawney in 1671. There were no fatalities or serious injuries.
A second moot hall was constructed on the same site soon after demolition. It remained in use up until 1854 when it too became structurally unsafe resulting in its demolition. The decision was taken for the workhouse and gaol to be renovated and turned into municipal offices. This was rebuilt in 1859 to better suit its purpose. The buildings were converted into a masonic hall upon the opening of the new town hall.
History of the building
The building consists of an 1865 structure and an 1906 extension.
In 1865 the Royal Hotel was built on a small eminence above the newly opened railway station to serve the needs of visitors to the town. Throughout its short life, the hotel was beset with financial difficulties and closed in 1895. A Lt. Col Wilkinson purchased the hotel in 1896 and converted it for use as a sanatorium, but in December 1901, it was sold for £9,000 to the Sutton Corporation to serve as Council Offices. The old Town Hall, in Mill Street, was sold in February 1903 and the Corporation began an ambitious extension to the building to provide a purpose built Town Hall comprising Council Chambers, Assembly Rooms and a Fire Station.
The tower, which rises from one of the main entrances, has a clock face on all four sides. When first opened, the clock tower also served as a hose tower and a ventilation shaft for the fire headquarters.
The extension was completed at a cost of £10,000 and opened as Sutton Coldfield Town Hall on 19 September 1906 by the Mayor, Councillor R. H. Sadler, though the fire headquarters had been opened a few months earlier. The opening event was an evening concert by the Sutton Coldfield Choral Society. The following night, an amateur dramatic performance of The Duke of Killicrankie was given by A. C. Fraser Wood and Company. All operations were moved from the previous town hall on Mill Street to the new building. The area to the front of the town hall, King Edwards Square, became the main public assembly area and the stocks were displayed to the public in the square (now on display at Blakesley Hall).
In 1919, the town hall was used as a theatre for discharged and demobilized men who had fought in World War I. It remained as such up until 1934 having hosted productions such as The School for Scandal, A Midsummer Night's Dream and The Merchant of Venice.
The Fire Station remained in use until it was replaced by a new building on Lichfield Road in 1963; later the old premises became the Bedford Suite. When Sutton Coldfield was absorbed into Birmingham in 1974, the Town Hall became redundant and was required to change its usage.
The Sutton Coldfield coat of arms, which was absorbed into the Birmingham Coat of Arms, is still depicted above the entrance.
Standing outside the town hall in King Edward Square is a war memorial commemorating those who died in World War I. Unveiled on 1 November 1922, it consists of single 1.8 metre bronze figure on a 4.6 metre Dalbeattie granite pedestal. Inscribed in the pedestal is:
Erected to the glorious memory of the men of Sutton Coldfield who gave their lives in the Great War 1914-1919; and they died that we may live.
The memorial was subject to debate immediately after the war. The design by Francis-Doyle Jones was selected by the Sutton Coldfield District Council committee in November 1919 and he promised not to produce a model like it anywhere else in Warwickshire and in only two other locations in the rest of the United Kingdom. The cost of the memorial was met by the Voluntary Subscription Fund. Doyle-Jones had prepared his clay model by March 1922 and the bronze figure was completed on by July 1922. Doyle-Jones was paid £1,650. The memorial was intended to be unveiled on 31 August 1922, however, delays caused by the stonemason set this date back to 1 November. The memorial was restored in 1979.
The town hall at present
More recently, the town hall saw use as a theatre, concert hall (including performances by the CBSO) and a centre for social functions. It was also a wedding venue.
In September 2012, Birmingham City Council offered the council house portion of the building for sale. In May 2014, it was announced that this part of the building had been sold to Gethar Ventures, and would be converted into 18 residential apartments, with a further 35 apartments and two restaurants built on adjacent land. The future of the remaining parts of the hall is in doubt and a committee has now been formed to attempt to run it as a community venture.
- "Schedule of Locally Listed Buildings". Birmingham City Council. December 2007. Retrieved 2 February 2008.
- The Royal Town of Sutton Coldfield - A Commemorative History, Douglas V. Jones, 1994, Westwood Press (ISBN 0-9502636-7-2)
- Walmley and its surroundings, Douglas V. Jones, 1990, Westwood Press (ISBN 0-948025-11-5)
- "Sutton Coldfield Council House". Birmingham City Council. 25 September 2012. Retrieved 25 September 2012.
- Noszlopy, George Thomas; Jeremy Beach (1998). Public Sculpture of Birmingham. Liverpool University Press. pp. 77–8. ISBN 0-85323-692-5.
- Sutton Coldfield Constituency Team - Birmingham.gov.uk
- Brown, Graeme (9 May 2014). "Sutton Coldfield's 150-year-old town hall sold for apartments - Birmingham Mail". Birmingham Mail. Retrieved 11 May 2014.