Here we have an official Souvenir and official programme of proceedings for the opening of The City Hall of Norwich by His Majesty King George VI (H.M. King Charles III’s grandfather) and H. M. Queen Elizabeth (The Queens Mother) on Saturday 29th October 1938.
The City Hall for the Corporation of Norwich was designed by C.H. James Esq. ARA FRIBA and S. Rowland Pierce, Esq. FRIBA with the design competition being assessed by Robert Atkinson Esq. FRIBA who was also the Architect for the Market Place.
The City Hall building was designed to be a national monument which led to a somewhat unusual design of the building in which the walls are solid brick walls rather than vertical steel framed being the main supporting members. The floors are of a concrete and steel suspension in which hollow clay blocks have been used as infill. The building uses Clipsham stone from Rutland on the lowest stories while Ketton stone from Stamford for the ground floor and other decorative highlights. The first-floor level is faced in Multi Colour bricks from Buckinghamshire.
There are many decorative features on the city hall from the clock tower to the bronze doors with plaques representative of Norwich City’s history and important industries, such as The Execution of Robert Kett, and Aeroplane Building. The building represents a masterpiece of the Austere Classic style interpreted through the 1920-1930s Art Deco period and with the lavish interior which is why the building is a listed grade II* building.
However, the building has never reached its full form of design as originally envisioned, in which there would be a fully encircled open central courtyard with further civic functions, in which the west side along Ingham Street would have been a Medical Officer of Health Department Building with a Tuberculosis Clinic. With at the time of writing of the programme the arm which would run north by St. Giles Street was earmarked for future extensions. Forming with the city market, memorial terraced gardens and under-croft (now the Undercroft Gallery) the centre of Norwich Civic activities.
What else did the King and Queen visit during their time in Norwich?
During their visit, the King and Queen witnessed a football match between Norwich City and Millwall and were received by Chairman of the Directors J.F. Wright, Esq with Millwall winning the division two game 0-2 in front of 21,593 at Carrow Road Stadium.
Also, the King and Queen visited Norwich Lads’ Club a local amateur boxing club which is still going strong today as a not-for-profit local community club, the King and Queen and were received by the founder and chairman of the club J. H. Dain Esq. O.B.E.
Click the images to enlarge.
Blog by Karl Hanson, Senior Archaeologist at Parker Planning Services
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