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County Hall

A Grade II Listed Building in Carmarthen, Carmarthenshire

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Coordinates

Latitude: 51.8556 / 51°51'20"N

Longitude: -4.3052 / 4°18'18"W

OS Eastings: 241336

OS Northings: 219953

OS Grid: SN413199

Mapcode National: GBR DG.T8RJ

Mapcode Global: VH3LH.BMBD

Entry Name: County Hall

Listing Date: 28 November 2003

Last Amended: 28 November 2003

Grade: II

Source: Cadw

Source ID: 82151

Building Class: Civil

Location: Situated prominently above the Towy Bridge.

County: Carmarthenshire

Community: Carmarthen

Locality: Castle Hill

Traditional County: Carmarthenshire

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Carmarthen

History

Carmarthenshire county offices, designed in 1935 by Sir Percy Thomas PRIBA but not completed until 1955. The county hall replaces the Carmarthen Gaol built by John Nash on part of the site of Carmarthen Castle. The portico of the Nash gaol was dismantled for re-erection, but the stones were mislaid during the war. The county council was formed in 1889, operated first from the County Clerk's private office in Llandovery, then from Bank House, Spilman Street from 1907. The gaol site was bought in 1924 and various plans for conversion made before the decision for a new building was taken in 1934. The start was delayed until 1939 by indecision over a site at Friars Park and by the demolition of the gaol. Work stopped in 1942 and resumed in 1946. The council chamber was completed last. The contractors were W.T. Nicholls of Gloucester.

Exterior

County offices, in Chateau style, rock-faced grey Forest of Dean stone with some Portland stone dressings and steep roofs of grey-green slate. Four ranges each with massive roof bell-cast at eaves and the 2 long sides ended in full-height curved bays carried up as curved pavilion roofs. Basement treated as plinth with deep Portland stone top moulding, and Portland stone used also for eaves cornice, a thin string below frieze and a moulded cornice under eaves. Windows are small-paned metal cross-windows set close to the wall-face, occasionally lengthened as French windows opening onto balconies, with stone voussoirs. Basement windows are small casement pairs.
N and S fronts have 2 massive stone chimney stacks on ridge: stone bases, Portland stone plinths, curved-fronted tall shafts and Portland stone sloping caps. 1-13-1 bays with French windows to first floor in 5 centre bays and also to the big outermost curved bays, all with metal railed balconies. N front main entry has a very broad flight of 11 grey stone steps with railings, flanked by massive cubic blocks of similar stone. Broad doorcase in Portland stone and 2 flanking tiny windows to middle 3 bays. Doorcase is carved with 11 relief shields by David Evans illustrative of the county council's operations (education, health, weights and measures, car taxation etc). Double panelled doors with overlight. Door outer moulding is carried up from plinth, ogee with inner roll-mould and outer step.
E and W sides have similar 12-window range, the plinth stepped over big Portland stone doorways in third bay from each end. Double 4-panel doors. Above each door is first floor elongated octagonal light with tilting metal window.

Interior

Functional interiors with terrazzo floors and stairs. Inside main doors double glass doors into lobby with 2 plaster quadripartite vaults and steps up to arch into main entrance hall. Broad stairs up each side to upper landing with entry to council chamber and principal rooms. Council chamber is most significant interior in modern historicist style. Raked horseshoe seating. Ornate ceiling on a deep coving with Gothic pointed arcading on corbels with painted shields. Ceiling centre has bold coloured big twisted roll moulding around square of deep-set diagonal square panels. Curved gallery over entrance with plastered front and minimal curve-and-dart moulding. Dado panelling with turned balusters in front of radiators. Four fine wrought iron hanging lights of two scrolled circles with lamp brackets.
Part of original gaol cells said to survive, used as archive store-rooms.

Reasons for Listing

Included as one of the most notable mid C20 public buildings in Wales, by a leading Welsh architect, the dominant building of the town. A striking and unusual design, perhaps acknowledging the historical origins of its site.

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