For over 70 years this city hall has operated as the political and civic center of Aarhus, Denmark, and continues to be a symbolic representation of democracy.
During the late 19th century, as industrialism in England spurred a great urban planning movement, a group of men in the West Midlands decided that their town needed a formal building and concert hall. The Town Improvement Commissioners purchased land from a local wealthy family and built the West Bromwich Town Hall.
Designed in the Italian Gothic style, the Town Hall was built with brick and stone. Its main entrance features triple arches supported by stone columns decorated with medieval carved heads that represent the twelve months of the year.
Its grandeur continues inside where the ceiling, iron work, walls, stained glass window, and pillars reflect the interest of Gothic and Medieval architecture popular at the time. The design was so impressive that the Weekly News wrote that its “”harmonious blending of colors, and magnificent stencil work costing many days of artistic and patient labour, cannot be too highly praised and words can hardly express the charming effect…””
Yet, at the center of it all, perhaps it’s the Grand Organ that creates the most harmonies. Gifted by industrialist Alexander Brogden, the organ was built following the International Exhibition of 1862 and is one of twelve organs built specifically for town halls in England. In 1997, it was recognized for its historic significance by the British Institute of Organ Studies.
In some ways, the Town Hall is an embodiment of rural England’s shift from the old manorial way of life to the modern-day town. In 1882, the Commission successfully petitioned the Queen for a charter to incorporate. When the request was granted, West Bromwich had its own town council consisting of six wards and 18 elected officials. Today it continues to operate as a municipality building.
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