Sunday, September 4, 2011

Town Hall, Regent Circus

In recent years the home of the reference library and dance studio Cre8, the Grade II listed building was once at the heart of local government in Swindon.

Built in 1890, the red brick building with Bath stone dressings and a distinctive clock tower was designed by Brightwen Binyon.  Artist and architect, Binyon was a pupil of Alfred Waterhouse, designer of the Natural History Museum in London. He collaborated on Stanmore Hall with Arts and Crafts luminaries William Morris and Edward Burne Jones.

When Binyon started work on Swindon Town Hall his portfolio included designs for the Corn Exchange in his hometown of Ipswich and Sunderland Town Hall.

In 1890 Regent Circus was something of a building site. Development on land owned by Col, W.V. Rolleston began in 1888. The centrepiece of what was originally to be called Trafalgar Square was the New Swindon Local Board offices.

In 1900 Old and New Swindon were eventually incorporated into one authority and the Town Hall became the seat of local government.

In 1915 the building included offices for the town clerk, borough surveyor, borough treasurer, medical officer of health, assistant overseer, rate collectors, inspector of nuisances and the secretary of the education committee. There was a large room for public meetings and another for the council chamber.

By the 1930s the building was proving inadequate to house the borough council offices. A small recreation ground in Euclid Street was ear marked for development and the new Civic Offices opened there in 1938.

Town Hall architect Brightwen Binyon

General William Booth, founder of the Salvation Army, visits Swindon in 1904

The Town Hall all dressed up for the Royal visit in 1924

The Town Hall in the 1950s

Images courtesy of Swindon Local Studies 

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Swindon Central Library 

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