Building Name

Town Hall Wolverhampton

1869 - 1871
Market Square
GMCA, England
New build

Situated in North Street, directly opposite the Civic Centre, the building which now houses the Law Courts was originally constructed as a replacement for the old Town Hall (built in 1687) which had been demolished. The official opening of the new Town Hall, on 19 October 1871, is commemorated by a statue of George Thorneycroft, Wolverhampton's first Mayor, which stands in the main entrance hall.  The Town Hall formed the front of a larger complex, extending from North Street to Red Lion Street, which included the main Fire station and the main Police station. Thus, the tangible symbols of authority were fairly centrally placed in Victorian Wolverhampton. As the town grew in prestige, some show of municipal importance was deemed necessary. The usual symbol was a Town Hall. Wolverhampton's present one was built in 1869 71, by E. Bates, in the French renaissance "second empire" style, with flat Corinthian pillars on the frontage. The French style roof was added later, paid for by Phillip Horsman. This replaced an earlier Town Hall, built in 1856, which was of a very standard classical design. By the time the present Town Hall was built the Victorians had tired of plain classicism for their public buildings and looked for something more interesting   Second Empire resulted from the combination of French renaissance architecture with standard classicism.

The Law Courts is a symmetrical two storey building constructed in the French Renaissance style with a sandstone facade and rusticated plinth. Above the plinth an the ground floor are fourteen bay windows divided by eight flat Corinthian pilasters which also divide the windows on the top floor. At the centre of the facade is the main entrance which has a window above it.In the centre of the balustrade which runs along the top of the facade is a clock tower and clock which are both part of the original building. The clock was purchased around 1870 for ,8 -10s-0d. From the centre of the slate roof, and immediately behind the clock tower, a truncated curved slate roof projects upwards. On either side of this, at both ends of the facade, two similar but smaller flat roofs can also be seen. All three roof tops are decorated in wrought iron. The initial idea for the construction of a new Town Hall was put forward by Henry Hartley Fowler (later Lord Wolverhampton and the father of the novelist Ellen Thorneycroft Fowler) in 1865. The decision to proceed was taken at a Council meeting in 1869 after a proposal by Alderman Walker seconded by Alderman Hawksford. The building was designed by Ernest Bates of Manchester, and constructed by Philip Horsman of Wolverhampton. As the seat of the Council, the Town Hall originally contained a Council Chamber, which was used for the Authority's Council meetings, large rooms for committee meetings, Members rooms and a Mayoral suite with Reception Room. Also housed in the Town Hall were a Sessions Court, Borough Magistrates Court, offices for the Department of Chief Officials and rooms for the Recorder, Magistrates Clerk and witnesses. Detention cells, where defendants could be kept before facing the Courts, were situated beneath the buildings. The rear of the Town Hall, in conjunction with the nearby Police offices and Fire Station, surrounded a large courtyard.


Reference    Manchester Guardian Thursday 18 March 1869 Page 8(Contracts)
Reference    Manchester Guardian Tuesday 23 March 1869 Page 3(Contracts)
Reference    Manchester Guardian Saturday 27 March 1869 Page 2 (Contracts)
Reference    Builder 28 October 1871 page 844 (opening)