Civic Centre history

The story of Salford Civic Centre began in 1934, when the urban district of Swinton and Pendlebury was incorporated as a Municipal Borough.

At that time council meetings were held in Victoria House, Victoria Park, but the new Borough of Swinton and Pendlebury required a new town hall. A national competition for the best design was won by architects Sir Percy Thomas and Ernest Prestwich.  

The general contractors were the local firm J. Gerrard and Sons Limited. The foundation stone was laid on 17 October 1936 by the then Mayor, Alderman S. Jackson, JP. The land was purchased by the corporation for the sum of £12,500, and building costs, including the landscaping of its spacious grounds, came to £80,000.

The new town hall was officially opened by the The Rt Hon Arthur Greenwood MP, on 17 September 1938, and was later awarded the Gold Medal of the Royal Institute of British Architects.

The 1937 building is of neo-classical style. Its most impressive feature is the clock tower, which is nearly 38 metres high and is 1.7 square metres at its base. The clock face on each side of the tower is 2.7 metres in diameter. The digits of the clock are plain rectangular blocks of bronze, measuring 35 x 10 centimetres and were covered in gold leaf. The dials were originally lit at night.

Thereafter the town hall became the centre of local government in Swinton and Pendlebury. In 1974 the new 'city of Salford' was formed following the reorganisation of local government in England and Wales. Because of its central situation and amount of land available Swinton town hall was the natural choice for the administrative headquarters of the new Metropolitan District's office, and so, on 1 April 1974, it officially became the Salford Civic Centre.

Additional accommodation for councillors and staff was urgently needed, so the council chamber and first floor of the Swinton Town Hall were remodelled to provide a Council Chamber seating sixty nine, a public gallery seating fifty, and four committee rooms, together with a Mayor's Parlour, councillors' facilities and a number of ancillary offices.

The Civic Centre today

As you enter the former Swinton Town Hall building through the arched entrance, the main area leads to two broad flights of steps to the first floor foyer area in front of the Council Chamber. The entrance, staircase and foyer areas are lined with synthetic marble, as are the columns in black and gold marking the entrance to the Council Chamber. Above this entrance is the Coat of Arms of the former Borough of Swinton and Pendlebury.

The Council Chamber is 14.9 metres long, 12.3 metres wide and 8.3 metres high. The seating for Members of the Council is arranged in a semi-circle. On a raised dais are seats for the Mayor, Deputy Mayor, the Chief Executive and other chief officers and staff, and opposite the dais is the public gallery.

The coat of arms of the city of Salford is situated to the rear of the Mayor's chair. On the frieze above the dais are shields bearing the coat of arms of local families who figured prominently in the early history of Swinton and Pendlebury.

The remainder of the first floor houses the committee rooms and accommodation for the Mayor, and Members of the Council, together with part of the Chief Executive's directorate. The ground floor and basement levels consist of further office accommodation for various directorates and the printing section.

To cope with the new city's increased administration a computer centre was built adjacent to the Civic Centre at a cost of £122,000 and work began on phases I and II of the Civic Centre extension at a cost of £1.4 million. Building of the computer centre began in 1972 and was completed in July 1973.  

The new centre was officially opened on 21 February 1974 by Councillor W.B. Pennington, Chairman of the new shadow authority. The building provided a computer room surrounded by offices and ancillary accommodation for staff. The building is glass-walled, and specially air-conditioned by two systems. The system for the computer room is to a higher specification since it is necessary to control temperature, humidity and dust in areas where information is recorded on magnetic tapes and disks.

In preparing the development plan for the site of the Civic Centre extension, the architects, Cruickshank and Sewards had regard to the fine visual composition formed by the town hall and its lawns when seen from Chorley Road and this view was left virtually undisturbed. Phases I and II are located behind the Civic Centre. The general contractors were Fairclough Fram Gerrard of Pendlebury. The offices take a linear plan form and are four storeys high. Energy saving features include deeply recessed windows extending right to the ceiling in order to make maximum use of daylight.

The building was completed by the end of 1975. However, on 16 May 1975 HRH The Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, inspected the Phase I extension and unveiled a plaque commemorating his visit which can be seen in the present Civic Centre reception area.

The Duke of Edinburgh also presented the Mayor, Councillor H Singleton JP, with the Charter conferring upon Salford the status of a Metropolitan Borough and also the Letters Patent conferring the status of a city.

The latest addition to the Salford Civic Centre complex is the City Treasury building. This three storey building provides 4,000 square metres of space, and the open aspect of the front elevation is specifically designed to look inviting to the public.

The extensive public area at ground floor level contains reception facilities, interview rooms and a shop unit selling newspapers, cards and snacks. The architect for the building was the City Technical Services Officer and the contractor was J. Laing (Construction) of Old Trafford. The building has a steel-framed structure with concrete floors, and lightweight ceilings. The internal walls are of self-colour shot-blasted dense masonry blocks. The outer fabric of the building is brickwork, with a roof covered in rolled concrete tiles. The materials have been chosen to reflect those used in the original Swinton Town Hall both in colour and texture.  

The City Treasury building was officially opened by Mrs Margaret Beckett MP on 9 October 1991.

Rate this page