History of Hornsey Town Hall

In 1920, the local Council bought the Hornsey Town Hall site in the heart of Crouch End. A competition to design its Town Hall was launched in 1933 and assessed by C. Cowles Voysey, designer of the much-praised Worthing Town Hall. Competitors were asked not only to incorporate a council chamber, committee rooms and administrative offices in their designs, but also a multi-purpose hall with seating for 800 to 1,000 people, complete with upper gallery. Total expenditure was to be no more than £100,000. In all, 218 people entered the competition.

The successful architect was Reginald Uren. His bold, modern design was an ingenious solution to a difficult-shaped site. Uren, Voysey commented, had grasped the simple fact “that ceremonial areas did not expand but offices did”. By dispensing with traditional symmetry and by grouping suites of committee rooms in a less formal way, he was able to make great use of the site.

The Town Hall was opened on 4 November 1935 in a ceremony attended by the Duke and Duchess of Kent. Although opinions were divided about the building, the Hornsey Journal claimed that “the architect deserves thanks for boldly breaking away from the deadly classicism of the Victorian public building”. RIBA (Royal Institute for British Architecture) awarded the building a bronze medal for the best London building erected during the three years ending in December 1935.

Hornsey Town Hall, now a Grade II* Listed Building, continued to house municipal functions until the London Government Act 1963 merged Hornsey, Tottenham and Wood Green Councils. Wood Green Civic Centre was chosen to as Haringey’s new municipal centre. Since then, Haringey Council has used the Town Hall as offices and training. The last public performances in the Assembly Rooms were held in the 1980s.