This week the C20 Society agreed to support proposals for the refurbishment of Walthamstow Town Hall. We appreciate Waltham Forest Council’s commitment to staying in this building and investing in it, at a time when lots of local authorities are choosing to move from older purpose-built offices resulting in complication conversion schemes or plans for demolition.
Designed by Philip Dalton Hepworth in 1937-42, the Town Hall retains lots of original features and finishes in both ceremonial and office spaces. Decorative materials were used creatively due to wartime shortages, and some features were added in the 1950s. Built in Portland stone with a square copper lantern complete with clock, and over three storeys, it includes 19 bays and a central portico of four piers with inset relief plaques and the inscription Walthamstow Town Hall in the frieze. A theatre to the south-east of the building is an integral part of the design of the wider civic complex. It is a popular wedding venue and well-loved locally.
The refurbishment plans involve the retention of most original fabric and the reversal of later, insensitive alterations. They include opening up smaller offices into larger open-plan workspaces, making improvements to the building’s disabled access, adding new furniture for the Council Chamber, making changes both to the entrance lobby to reverse later partitioning and alterations, and to a first floor light well that is currently covered and artificially lit.
As motor access to the building is no longer from Forest Road to the south, the plans include re-landscaping works to the formal front gardens, including a reconfiguration of the water fountain – the centrepiece of the formal gardens to the south of the Town Hall.