Nottingham Buildings

The Nottingham Council House

 

There can be few cities in all England that can boast a council house of such quality and proportions and it is one of my favourite city buildings.

The imposing Nottingham Council House sits at heart of the city at the east end of The Old Market Square (See separate section). It was designed by architect Cecil Howitt, and was opened by The Prince of Wales in 1929. It is not only the seat of The Nottingham City Council, but provides floor space for many retail outlets along its two sides and back plus the beautiful Exchange Arcade (See separate section) .

Whilst the exterior follows a 1920's interpretation of neoclassical design, the interior of the building was a total surprise for me when I first explored it only very recently. Whilst the classical theme is still strong in some rooms, in others it has been totally abandoned in favour of other totally different styles.  Howitt obviously followed the design philosophy of  his Nottingham predecessor Watson Fothergill and mixed together elements of several styles that were to his taste to produce something totally unique. In the Ballroom there are Ionic columns and a strong classical theme, but the whole lot is lit by Art Deco lanterns.  All the rooms are designed, decorated and furnished to a very high standard and overall, I would say that it is a 20th century masterpiece and most certainly one of, if not the finest building of that era in the City of Nottingham.  

In giving credit for this magnificent building to Cecil Howitt, the important contribution made by Nottingham sculptor Joseph Else (1874-1955) should not be forgotten.  Else was the principle at the Nottingham School of Art  (Waverly Street) between 1923 and 1939,  and was  the man personally responsible for the execution of most of the sculpture, including the pediment over the frontage and the lions. For other sculptural work such as three of the four pieces around the dome tower, Else enlisted the help of several of his most talented ex-pupils.  Ernest Webb did  'Knowledge', C Dolman 'Civic Law' and James Woodward 'Prosperity'. The forth (By Else himself) is ' Commerce'. Take time to look at these works when you next walk past them - they are well worth a closer examination.

I am indebted to Nottingham City Council for granting me special access to tour this beautiful building to take the internal photographs below.

Tours can be arranged by contacting the council at: civic.office@nottingham.gov.uk

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