Dudley Council House

Dudley has accumulated a fine collection of public buildings in the St James’s Road and Priory Street area, creating a ‘Civic Quarter’ - the administrative heart of the borough.  

The 1920s and 1930s were a period in which many town and city councils commissioned new and prestigious administrative and headquarter buildings.  Here at Dudley, the budget could not match the sums available in major cities and county towns.  The population of the borough numbered some 59,000 in 1931, as opposed to almost 260,000 in Nottingham.  Nonetheless, the council wanted a suite of civic rooms and offices which would express the heritage of Dudley, whose medieval castle and abbey ruins had recently been included within the perimeter of the borough.

 

The site occupied by the council house building had formerly been the location of the earlier town hall.  Part of the site for the new building was formerly a close of houses, opening onto Priory Road.  These are shown on the first edition OS map of 1884 and on the second edition map of 1904 they are marked as ‘Police Buildings’

They turned to W. Alexander Harvey and H. Graham Wicks.  Alexander Harvey came to prominence as the architect involved in the design of the Bournville Village for George Cadbury. The practice had also previously designed the town hall complex to the south-east corner of the island site, fronting onto St James’s Road and Priory Street and including the town hall, Brooke Robinson museum, coroner’s court and sessions court and the memorial tower.

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The council house is also rich with works of art integrated into the design of the building by the Birmingham sculptor, Walter Gilbert.  Other cast and sculpted work throughout the building is by William Bloye, who had established a studio in Birmingham as well as being head of sculpture at the Birmingham School of Art from 1919 to 1956.  

The foundation stone for the council house was laid by the Earl of Dudley in June 1934.  The building was opened a little over a year later in July 1935 and was officially opened by the Duke of Kent in December 1935. According to The Builder of December 1935, the building housed the departments of the town clerk, borough engineer and surveyor, borough treasurer and the rates office, medical officer, sanitary inspector and housing officer.  It also had a council chamber to seat sixty aldermen and councillors with a gallery for the use of the public, committee and reception rooms, mayor’s parlour and members’ room and accommodation for a caretaker.

DOWNLOADS

HOD-leaflet---Council-House-1.jpg
The Coroner's Court - Heritage Open Day Guide
Click on the image to download PDF
Dudley's-civic-booklet-1.jpg
Dudley's Little Book of History
Click on the image to download PDF

Heritage Open Days is a scheme that encourages owners of historically important buildings to open them free of charge to the public. 

To provide feedback or for further information, contact Emma Pardoe at emma.pardoe@dudley.gov.uk

Supported by the National Lottery Heritage Fund through the Dudley Townscape Heritage programme
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