COUNTY HALL: Building worth preserving

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There has been much opposition to Northumberland County Council’s plans to demolish County Hall in order to construct a new administrative building in Ashington.

Contradictory costs have been aired regarding refurbishment of the current County Hall building and the construction of the new build.

What has not been aired, however, is the fact that the current County Hall building has architectural merit and should be preserved for that reason alone.

It is included in the Pevsner Architectural Guide for Northumberland. This volume is part of a series of books under the general title of The Buildings of England. The current volume was updated in 1992.

The authors of the revised book write that County Hall is: “A large, informal, three-storey building grouped around two gardens.

“Well-detailed red brick, with continuous strips of windows with brown wood frames, this pattern broken periodically by full-height mullioned-and-transomed windows. Shallow hipped copper roofs.

“A humane and agreeable building, though the approach to the main entrance is poky and insignificant. Inside, in the lobby, impressive rubbed-brick reliefs of Northumbrian history by John Rothwell.”

Northumberland County Council’s ‘promoted content’ (Morpeth Herald, January 5) showed an artist’s impression of “part of the new county council HQ”.

It was a rectangular box with a facade of huge windows. Nothing of architectural note at all.

The present County Hall building has much to commend it, not least because being able to glimpse the gardens when en-route from one part of the building to another must be extremely pleasant for those working there.

It is a building worth preserving and it should not be demolished.

Even if Northumberland County Council is determined to move the county’s administrative headquarters elsewhere, the building that currently houses it should be retained, refurbished and put to another use.

Susan Starkie

Morpeth