Wednesday, 4 January 2017

Celebrating our Municipal Town Halls part 3 .......... Woolwich Town Hall

It is all too easy to become cynical about public service and the achievements of local government.

Back in the 19th and early 20th centuries local government  more so than Westminster was at the cutting edge of improving the lives of local people.

As Sidney Webb said the “municipalities have done most to socialise our industrial life.”  And so a resident of Manchester, Birmingham or Glasgow could benefit from municipal supplies of water, gas and electricity, travel on municipally owned trams and buses, walk  through a municipally maintained park while knowing his children were being educated in municipally run schools.

“Glasgow builds and maintains seven public ‘common lodging houses’; Liverpool provides science lectures; Manchester builds and stocks an art gallery; Birmingham runs schools of design; Leeds creates extensive cattle markets; and Bradford supplies water below cost price. 

There are nearly one hundred free libraries and reading rooms. The minor services now performed by public bodies are innumerable.”*

And all of that was evidenced not only in the Corporation parks and schools and baths but in the town halls which were solid examples of both civic pride and local democracy.

So here is Woolwich Town Hall built in 1906 and opened by Will Crooks

Picture; Woolwich Town Hall, courtesy of Kristina Bedford*

*Woolwich Through Time, Kristina Bedford, 2014, Amberley Publishing,

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