From Guildhall to City Hall
Leicester used its medieval Guildhall as the Town Hall for around 300 years. By the mid-19th Century much larger premises were needed to support a rapidly growing industrial centre. The current Town Hall was opened in 1876 on the site of the old cattle market to house the Council offices, Council Chamber, law courts, Sanitary Department, School Board, Borough Police and Fire Brigade.
In 1919 Leicester was recognised as a city. It continued to expand, along with its Council. Conditions in the Town Hall soon became cramped and some departments began to move out.
The Leicester Mercury expressed the view that Leicester’s Victorian Town Hall:
“…had no doubt been designed in its day to meet the needs of distant posterity. But few leaders of any age are so far sighted as to plan and build adequately for succeeding generations”.
New Offices for a Modern City
In 1930 plans for a new building on Charles Street were announced to bring the Housing, Electricity, Rates, Motor Licence and Valuation departments under one roof. It would be part of the street’s redevelopment to improve the route for traffic through the city centre. The site set aside for the building, between Halford Street and Rutland Street, had previously been occupied by offices and industrial premises.
Opposition and Controversy