Ealing Town Hall, Nelson Room, Council Chamber and Mayor's Office
Charles Jones (West Wing)
- Original design
- Charles Jones (West Wing), 1888
The 2018 programme is now past. We will be launching the 2019 programme mid-August.
Ealing's Town Hall is a distinctive late-Victorian gothic building on Ealing Broadway, which is still being used for its original purposes as council offices and public meeting rooms.
The task of building the new town hall began in 1886 when the old town hall became too small for the prospering and populous suburb of Ealing. A new, more impressive town hall was also seen as a status symbol for the borough.
The old town hall still stands and is now the NatWest Bank on The Mall at the junction of Uxbridge Road and Haven Green.
Charles Jones, the council's surveyor, negotiated the sale of the land on Uxbridge Road on which the new town hall now stands. The owners were the Wood family, Ealing's major landowners. There had previously been a falling out between the Wood family and the council, and as a conciliatory gesture the Woods sold the land for £500, a fraction of its true value.
Jones designed the town hall in 1888 with similar materials and in a similar style to the previous town hall. However, the new building was considerably more ambitious than its predecessor.
The town hall cost £16,000 to build, but has stood the test of time and proved a valuable investment.
The town hall also housed a public library (or free library as it used to be called).
Edward, Prince of Wales (later Edward VII) opened the town hall on 15 December 1888.
During the Second World War a wall was built around the town hall to help protect it during the blitz. It survived relatively unscathed, apart from a crack running around the north west end of the Victoria Hall caused by the pressure wave of a bomb that fell nearby.
Named to commemorate Queen Victoria’s Golden Jubilee in 1887, the Victoria Hall was designed to accommodate the various clubs and societies that existed in Ealing. Local dignitaries, including Baron Rothschild and Sir Edward Montague-Nelson who each contributed £500, gave funds towards building costs. The remaining funds were raised in the form of debentures (a long term bond).
In 1957 the council decided to install an acoustic ceiling to improve the sound for concert performances. Fortunately in the last few years, due to a change in use, the ceiling was removed to reveal the splendid ceiling and cathedral glass “rose” window.
In keeping with the Gothic treatment of the Town Hall the ceiling has been designed to resemble a hammer-beam construction of the middle ages. In fact, the construction is of steel, the rods encased in pinewood and stained to give the appearance of oak.
The timber panels are similarly of pine (or ‘deal’ as it was known) and the marble columns on the walls are painted and polished plaster.
The western most bay of the hall has been ‘sample’ restored pending future full restoration
The Nelson Room
Originally the Council Chamber and named after Sir Edward Montague-Nelson.
Large painting of Edward VII
The Telfer Room
Named after a former Council Leader, John Telfer
The Liz Cantell Room
Named after a well know local personality of the 1980s who was disabled herself and did much for other people with disabilities. The Liz Cantell Room has disabled access and a hearing loop.
Constructed in 1936 to mark the silver jubilee of King George V. With the exception of additional seating and an improved public speaking system, it is in its original glory.
The public gallery is not particularly well sited for people to see all members of the council. Although there were plans to reconstruct the Chamber to make the public gallery larger, financial restrains prevented this happening.
The public seldom attend meetings in any numbers, but there have been some significant exceptions to this when the public gallery has been packed. Debates which have attracted a high level of public interest and controversy have usually been on planning issues, changes to housing or education policies.
When the present London Borough of Ealing started in 1964, despite it being an amalgamation of three former boroughs, Acton, Ealing and Southall, there was never any serious disagreement that the new borough should be named Ealing. The borough’s new coat of arms and inscription “Progress with Unity” were equally easily agreed and a large version of the new badge is above the Mayor’s dais.
Immediately above the Mayor’s seat is a carved wooden badge of the former Borough of Ealing and on either side – where the Deputy Mayor and Chief Executive normally sit – are the badges of the former boroughs of Acton and Southall.
The Ealing badge dates back to the building of the Council Chamber in 1936, but the Acton and Southall badges were added in the late 1960s. The badges were carved by an Austrian woodcarver living locally, who had come to Ealing as a refugee from the Nazis before the second world war.