The Twentieth Century Society

Campaigning for outstanding buildings

Buildings at risk

Shirehall, Shropshire

Image: Shropshire Star

The future of the Shropshire Council’s modernist HQ, Shirehall, in Shrewsbury, has been the subject of speculation for some years, first around the funding of a multi-million pound refurbishment and more recently around renewed calls to sell the site and the application for a Certificate of Immunity which Historic England has recommended. This would prevent the building from being listed for five years which would make the site more attractive to potential developers.

The building, which was opened by the Queen in 1967, was designed by County Architect Ralph Crowe. Pevsner and Newman’s volume – ‘The Buildings of England, Shropshire’ (2006) says that the Shirehall is ‘The major monument to post-war Modernism in the county’ adding ‘‘The forecourt within the canopy and beneath the council chamber is a remarkable space, partly top-lit and with distant glimpses of the town below to the West, a six-storey office block behind, a long narrow slab with windows in continuous bands, the wall surfaces clad in grey-green mosaic.’ Fearing the building could be demolished, a group of enthusiasts have formed SOS – Save Our Shirehall – to fight the plans and C20 is supporting them. Ralph Crowe was Shropshire County Architect from 1958-66, then becoming County Architect at Essex. Later in his career, he became Head of Architecture at the University of Newcastle.

Other buildings by the Shropshire or Essex County Architects under Crowe include: Saffron Walden Library and Arts Centre, a refurbishment of a mid-19th century corn exchange, which is listed Grade II; Restoration of Thaxted Guildhall, listed Grade I. C20 has been supporting the local campaign group Save our Shirehall to safeguard the building and has requested a review of the decision not to list the building.

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