Town Hall. 1888-90 by George Edward for the Fulham parish vestry. Treasure & Son builders. Altered and substantially extended 1904-5 by Francis Wood, Borough Engineer to the Metropolitan Borough of Fulham. Extension of 1934 by Walter Cave not included.
Reason for Listing
The former Fulham Town Hall is listed at Grade II* for the following principal reasons:
* Architectural interest: the Italianate façade of the 1888-90 vestry hall is elegantly composed and richly detailed, while the 1904-5 elevation is a handsome example of full-blooded Edwardian Baroque. The quality of stonework and sculptural detail to both elevations is high;
* Interiors: the town hall is exceptional for the rich panoply of interiors and wealth of high-quality fittings and decorative finishes from both its principal construction phases;
* Intactness: the building has undergone remarkably little alteration, externally or internally;
* Historic interest: an eloquent illustration of burgeoning civic identity in late-Victorian and Edwardian London, marking the transition from a parish vestry to a fully-fledged metropolitan borough.
In December 1885, Fulham Vestry launched a competition for the design of a new town hall to replace its existing vestry hall in Walham Green. This attracted 63 entrants and vociferous accusations of jobbery and nepotism when the assessors’ first choice, a design by Newman & Newman, was rejected in favour of a design by George Edwards. The new town hall was built 1888-90, but the enormous growth of Fulham in the 1890s and expansion of the council’s duties meant that it rapidly proved too small. The town hall was altered and extended in 1904-5 by the Metropolitan Borough of Fulham, created in 1900 under the London Government Act (1899), to the design of Francis Wood, Borough Engineer. Much of the interior work, including furniture, was carried out by council direct labour. The building was again extended in 1934 to the design of Walter Cave. It ceased use as a town hall in 1965 when the boroughs of Hammersmith and Fulham were merged, but continued in use as a register office and venue for events.
Façades clad in Portland stone; other elevations stock brick; slate roofs
The 1888-90 town hall stands to the north facing Fulham Road. The ground floor comprises offices to either side of an axial corridor; the main stair is placed centrally on the west side; on the first floor is a large public hall and ancillary rooms. To the SE is a linked block containing the former committee rooms and council chamber (originally the vestry board room), with a concert hall above. To the SW, the 1904-5 extension fronting Harwood Road stands at a 45° angle to the earlier block. This has a large central entrance hall and stair with offices to either side, a mayor’s parlour and councillors’ retiring room to the rear, and committee rooms and assembly rooms on the first floor.
North elevation (1888-90): Fulham Road. The Italianate façade is faced in rusticated Portland stone with extensive carved decoration. Symmetrical composition of seven bays arranged 2-3-2, the central part breaks forward slightly and is two storeys high plus an attic; the outer bays are two storeys. The central entrance has a carved tympanum and a cast and wrought-iron canopy with lamps. Windows to either side have semi-circular tympana. First-floor windows lighting the public hall are framed by pilasters and have granite columns with Ionic capitals, and balconets; the central window projects slightly. The wings have pedimented entrances in the outer bays, and first-floor windows with elaborately carved segmental pediments. A dentilled cornice unites the façade; the attic storey has three oculi; above is a modillion cornice and a segmental pediment broken by a lucarne with an oculus. The porch has iron gates and a bronze wall plaque bearing names of mayors. The foundation stone, on the base of the pilaster to the left of the entrance, is dated 10 December 1888.
SW elevation (1904-5): Harwood Road. Edwardian Baroque style. Two storeys above a basement and five bays. Rusticated ground floor and basement. The splayed entrance is flanked by coupled columns supporting a balcony; the entrance arch has rusticated voussoirs and squat columns carved with scroll decoration to the lower shafts, and Ionic capitals. The first floor central bay has a balustraded balcony on scrolled brackets and a tall rusticated round-arched window framed by paired Ionic engaged columns; the outer bays have similar windows with single columns and elongated keystones decorated with swags and female heads; those to two other bays are tripartite. The entablature breaks forward above the columns and has a modillion cornice. Outer bays have broken-base triangular pediments; the centre has a broken segmental pediment above which the parapet rises to a higher level, bearing a cast-iron clock on scrolled brackets. The porch walls have stone aedicules to either side carved with the borough arms, bearing bronze plaques with names of mayors and councillors, a patterned mosaic floor with ‘Borough of Fulham’ in black letters, and glazed panelled doors in a handsome glazed timber surround.
1888-90 building. A lobby enclosed by two sets of oak glazed panelled doors with carved pediments leads through to the entrance hall and stair; these areas have inlaid terrazzo floors, pilastered walls and enriched beamed ceilings. Original glazed timber porter’s box. The stair half-landing is lit by a tall arched stained glass window depicting the Bishop of Hereford granting the Manor of Fulham to Erkenwald, designed by Francis Spear (1931), made by Lowndes & Drury, the gift of Sir William Waldron, former mayor. The stair divides into two flights here, leading to either side of a long gallery giving access to the large public hall. The gallery has a wrought-iron balustrade and green scagliola columns and mosaic and terrazzo floor. The hall, which seated 1,000 people, has a series of oak doors with carved pediments, an enriched beamed ceiling with three domes on a deep entablature, a stage (proscenium arch added 1950), and art deco light fittings. The arcaded gallery has green scagliola columns with Composite capitals; similar columns to windows. Lunettes above the windows, each with an oculus. The committee rooms adjacent to the council chamber have fireplaces and fielded panels to the walls. The council chamber has scagliola pilasters and an enriched coffered ceiling, also 1930s light fittings. The fixed semi-circular oak seating and mayor’s dais were installed in 1904-5 when the vestry board room was adapted as a council chamber. Public gallery with a decorative wrought-iron balustrade. A series of stained glass windows depict historic figures - including Charles I and Henrietta Maria, John Dwight, founder of Fulham Pottery - made at Brunswick works Hammersmith and presented by Councillor WL Leonard in 1928. The concert hall above has scagliola pilasters, a coved ceiling with strapwork borders and 1930s light fittings. The adjacent room has a scrolled cornice.
1904-5 extension. The entrance hall, stair landing and adjacent first-floor corridor have green marble pilasters, enriched beamed ceilings and mosaic floors. Office doors to either side have elaborate oak surrounds and art-nouveau leaded glazing to the tympana; glazed timber porter’s box to the rear. The grand stair of Hopton Wood marble has a massive balustrade carrying green marble columns which support the ceiling. The most notable ground-floor rooms are the Mayor’s parlour, which has lavish oak fittings in an Arts and Crafts manner with panelling, fitted seats, a beamed ceiling, inlaid parquet floor and an elaborate chimneypiece with enamelled glazed tiles. The adjacent WC has blue and green art nouveau tiling. The former councillors’ retiring room adjacent has oak fitted cupboards and a timber chimneypiece with green tiles and a shelved and hooded overmantel. A private corridor linking these rooms to the council chamber is clad in elaborate art nouveau relief tiles of roses on the dark-red background. A WC leading off the corridor has art nouveau tiling in green and yellow, with an original panelled cubicle. The office to the left of the entrance has an oak chimneypiece, decorative plasterwork, parquet floors, panelling and fitted cupboards. Other ground-floor rooms have fitted cupboards and parquet floors. The stair landing has a marble balustrade on two sides and on the north side an enclosed corridor accessed though arches; these areas have stained-glass rooflights. The first-floor assembly rooms are divided into two sections by an elliptical arch and have elaborate coffered ceilings. An adjacent committee room has decorative plasterwork; this and a second committee room have an oak chimneypiece similar to ground-floor rooms. To the SE is a pair of Ladies and Gentlemen’s cloakrooms, each with deep red and green tiled dados, cream tiles with green art-nouveau design, original timber panelled cubicles with moulded cornices, and inlaid terrazzo floors.
The principal areas of note are the ground and upper-floor rooms and circulation spaces described above. The building retains a wealth of high-quality fittings and decorative features including oak doors with brass handles, tiles, cast-iron radiator enclosures with marble tops, mosaic and terrazzo flooring, stained glass, plaster cornices etc, which contribute to its special interest.
Source: English Heritage
Listed building text is © Crown Copyright. Reproduced under licence.