A FINE BUILDING
TOWN'S NEW MUNICIPAL OFFICES
AN IMPRESSIVE AND COMMODIOUS ESTABLISHMENT
PONTEFRACT ADVERTISER, 6TH AUGUST 1932
Wednesday afternoon saw
the completion of an important step forward in the municipal life of
Pontefract, for on that day was the official opening of the new offices
for the officials of the Corporation, which have been erected on the
site of the old offices, behind the Free Library in Salter Row, and a
small part of the Corporation Yard, off the Headlands, adjoining. The
following particulars of the building have been kindly supplied to us by
Messrs. Tennant and Smith, the architects: -
The main front of the
building faces Headlands Road. The elevations are boldly designed,
suitable to this type of public building, with imposing main central
entrance in polished hard Yorkshire stone, with the Borough coat of arms
carved on the stonework over the doorway. The two principal elevations
are faced with sand-faced bricks, with stone base sills and cornice, and
the roof, which is covered with green Westmorland slates, is of the
Mansard type, permitting the utilisation of the roof space for storage
provided is as follows:
- All rooms and corridors
are heated by pipes and radiators on a low pressure hot water system.
- The lighting is by
electricity, and power plugs are placed in suitable positions.
- The main staircase and
side staircase are in polished hard Yorkshire stone, with ornamental
wrought iron balustrading.
- The corridors are laid
with marble terrazzo, divided into squares with ebonite strips.
- The committee room floors
are in polished oak blocks, and all the office floors are laid with
linoleum and linovent to give a silent tread.
- All the floors are
constructed with reinforced concrete, which makes the whole building
- The Borough Treasurer’s
Department is arranged at the front of the building facing Headlands
Road, and has a general office with enquiry space, private office and
typists office. All these rooms are easily accessible to each other.
- The rates office is also
at the front of the building, and had public space with two access doors
from the corridor, and a counter with division screens. Behind this
counter and screened off from the public space is accommodation for the
posting clerks, and also a private office for the Chief Rates Assistant.
- The Medical Officer’s and
Sanitary Inspector’s departments are grouped together on the right of
the corridor, the accommodation being private offices for the Medical
Officer and Sanitary Inspector, and general office with enquiry space.
- To the left of the
staircase a room is provided for the telephone exchange.
- Two fireproof strong
rooms are provided on this floor; and also a large committee room with
retiring room, cloaks recess, waiting room and caretaker’s store
- The principal staircase
occupies a central position and is well lighted by windows glazed with
leaded lights, and with a large dome light.
- Directly at the head of
the main staircase, off the corridor, is the Town Clerk’s private
office, with the general office, enquiry space, Deputy Town Clerk’s
office, and Education Clerk’s office. This department is grouped
together facing Headlands Road.
- On the left of the
staircase is an ante-lobby leading into the large principal committee
room, with panelled dado, and having exhaust ventilator with electric
- Adjoining the committee
room is a retiring and cloaks room fitted with small lockers.
- A waiting room adjoins
the retiring room.
- The Borough Engineer’s
department is grouped together on the north side of the building and
contains private office, typists’ office with enquiry office, clerks’
office, and Deputy Engineer’s office, adjoining a large drawing office
with north lights.
- This floor contains a
caretaker’s flat, with modern accommodation; and the remainder of the
floor is take up with store rooms for the various departments, and a
plan printing room for the Borough Engineer’s department.
Ladies and gent lavatory
accommodation is provided for on each floor, and all the lavatory basins
are connected with the hot water supply.
- In the basement is
provided the heating chamber, with storage for coke and coal, and
containing heating and hot water supply boilers.
All the work has been
carried out by local contractors under the Unemployment Grants Scheme,
the contracts amounting to £11,636.
The contractors were : -
Brickwork, stonework and
reinforced concrete: Messrs. Brown & Lodge.
Joiners work, including special fittings, desks, screens, counters etc:
Mr. C.L. Jackson.
Slaters: Messrs. Stewart Bros. & Sons.
Plumbers: Messrs. W. Pearson & Sons.
Plasterers, including tiling: Messrs. T. W. Senior & Sons.
Painter: Mr. S. Harrison.
Electrical Installation: Mr. F.S. Baxter.
The building has been designed and carried out from the plans and
details of and under the superintendence of the Architects, Messrs.
Tennant & Smith, F.I.A.A., L.R.I.B.A., of Pontefract.
The furniture has been supplied by Messrs. Postlethwaite and Stacey, of
There was a large and
interested gathering at the opening ceremony, where the invited guests
included a considerable number of members and officials of the
Corporation, the contractors, and leaders of public life in Pontefract
and neighbouring places, with their ladies. Mr. F.W. Pease, J.P.,
proved, as was only to be expected, an able and popularly-selected
chairman. With him on the steps of the building were the Mayor (Cr. W.
Wordsworth), the Mayoress, the Mayor’s Chaplain (the Vicar, Rev. C.C.T.
Naters), the Town Clerk (Mr. G. Wilkinson), and the Mace-bearer (Mr. F.
Brief prayers of
dedication were first read by the Vicar, after which Mr. Pease, having
expressed his appreciation of taking that part, said he well remembered
in 1878 being first elected member of the Corporation. There had been
many changes since then, and that day saw one of the biggest of them. He
knew that although there would be a lot of criticism they all had only
one intention – to make the town grow, which was what they were
expecting. He himself had seen it grow from a population of 9,000 to
more than double that number, and no-one could say how much it would
grow in the next fifty years – though he would not be there to see it.
He concluded by calling upon Mr. S.V. Smith.
Mr Smith said it was a
great privilege to him to present to the Mayor a key with which to open
the door of that building. It would be a memento of a rare and great
occasion, and he trusted that the opening of those offices would
coincide with the opening of a new era of prosperity for Pontefract.
A little daughter of the
Deputy-Mayor (Cr. P. Bentley) here handed to the Mayoress a pretty
The Mayor, accepting the
gift of the golden key, duly inscribed, and with the Borough Arms in
coloured enamel, complete with case, first outlined the arrangements for
the afternoon. He proceeded: -
“Before I declare this
building open I wish to very sincerely thank my colleagues for the great
honour they have conferred on me. I must next refer to Mr. Smith, our
very efficient architect, who has not only supervised this well designed
building but also just completed for us the Eastbourne Housing Estate at
Baghill, where we have 132 houses with all necessary comfort and
convenience so economically built that we have let them at 7/- and 7s/9d
per week including rates – the cheapest houses in the district.
“I thank you Mr. Smith,
for this choice and beautiful gold key. It will be a greatly prized
memento for both the Mayoress and myself, and I feel sure that our two
girls will also treasure it in future years.
“What shall I say of our
Chairman – Freeman of the Borough; three times Mayor; an active and able
Magistrate of both the County and the Borough; and with a records of
service to this town extending for more than fifty years? He has always
kept young, and not only knows the art of pessimistic optimism, but he
is also the jolliest of optimistic pessimists (laughter).
“Since the War, the
Council has devoted a great deal of time and thought and spent a lot of
money to improve the amenities of the town. Schemes that would have been
worthy of a County Borough have been carried through or are just ready
“we have built the Willow
Park Schools; erected the new water tower; laid a 16” water main from
Eggborough to the Park Hill reservoir; and completed the schemes of
drainage for the Townville and Ackworth Road areas.
“The next twelve months
will see our total of municipal houses pass the 1,000 mark; the old
King’s School made into an up-to-date building for 500 senior boys under
the able supervision of our other firm of local architects, Messrs.
Pennington, Hustler and Taylor; and a new water works at Eggborough will
enable us to say we are an up-to-date water undertaking with an abundant
supply for 80,000 people; and every month shows progress in slum
clearance schemes, private street works improvements and the supplying
of water to cottage property for sanitary and domestic purposes.
“It is a wonder that our
officials have carried out the desires of the Corporation so efficiently
in the inadequate old premises which are today replaced by this fine and
serviceable building. I am pleased to tell you that it has been built
for £3,000 less than the amount applied for and granted after a
Government inquiry and we are proud that local contractors have so well
and promptly carried out all the work. Your inspection will prove that
both the taxpayer and the ratepayer have good value for their money.
“It is just a year since
Capt. Bentley laid the foundation stone, and tomorrow – another
memorable August 4th – every branch of our municipal staff
will commence duty with fresh vigour and enthusiasm in their new and
improved surroundings. This will no doubt also infect the Council
Committee as they continue to work for our dear and ancient, but
up-to-date old Borough.
“I have only great
pleasure in opening the door of this building and declare the same to be
officially at your service for the Municipality of Pontefract. I feel
sure we have done the right thing in creating offices which are worthy
of the town and the objects which they are to serve both for the present
and possible increasing needs of the future.
His worship then turned
the key in the lock, opened the door, and declared the building to be at
the service of the municipality of Pontefract (applause).
Leading the ay, the Mayor
and Mayoress took up position at the foot of the main staircase, where
they shook hands with the visitors as they arrived to make a tour of
inspection of the premises. The visitors were warm in their expressions
of appreciation of the convenience of the arrangements, the spaciousness
of the accommodation, and the good finish and polish so much in evidence
in every direction. The generous proportions of the main committee room
were a notable point of comment, whilst the size and light of the
drawing office proved another feature which attracted much attention,
and the whole place was subjected to a thorough and extended inspection,
right up to the caretaker’s flat and on the flat roof.
HANDS TO THE PLOUGH
WANTED: NOT CRITICISM
After this the visitors
adjourned to the Town Hall whence, in due course, they were summoned to
the Assembly Room, where a dainty and ample tea was served by the staff
of the Pontefract Industrial Co-operative Society, Ltd., music being
furnished meanwhile by Mr. Kenneth Watson, the distinguished young
After the meal, Cr.
Bentley proposed a vote of thanks to “our beloved Freeman”, Mr. Pease,
for the way in which he had presided that afternoon. His selection was a
happy though, for he was a patriotic man (applause). Whatever he thought
about the government of Pontefract he would never allow anyone outside
the town to criticise it. After having done so much for his town one
wondered why he should bother his head any more about it, but it was
because of that same spirit of patriotism. He did not know of a man more
entitled to that honour that afternoon, and he had a personal reason for
his pleasure in the selection of Mr. Pease for the chairmanship – the
relationship which existed between his late father and Mr. Pease
Cr. J. Shaw,
vice-chairman of the Markets Committee, seconding, suggested that the
pleasure the Mayor derived from that afternoon’s ceremony must have been
enhanced by the thought that he had with him the towns oldest living
ex-Mayor. Cr. Wordsworth must have had an arduous time that afternoon
for he had opened those offices as Mayor of Pontefract, had handed them
over as chairman of the Unemployment Grants Schemes Committee, and had
accepted them as Chairman of the Markets and General Purpose Committee.
It had often struck him that Mr. Pease would make a jolly good Boy
Scout, for he was always smiling and whistling (laughter and applause).
Mr. Pease, referring to
the kind remarks of Crs Bentley and Shaw, said he could only reply that
he had done no more than any man in a position should do and take
pleasure in. As far back as 1916 he told the Corporation that their
labours then were nothing to what they would be. He had lived to see
that come true, and it would grow still more. Whatever time he had given
to Corporation work had been done with one object – the town’s good.
There were plenty of people who would come and criticise, but they did
not come forward and put their hands to the plough to plough a furrow
themselves for the town.
The party here honoured
Mr. Pease with the hearty singing of “Foe he’s a jolly good fellow”,
followed by three brisk cheers led by Cr. Bentley.
A vote of thanks for the
Mayor was moved by Cr. Miller, chairman of the Castleford U.D. Council,
who remarked that such a pleasant gathering made him feel that they were
a nice happy family together.
Cr. E. Taylor, chairman
of the Whitwood U.D. Council, said he felt he must be well known in
Pontefract, for when Mr. Pease first caught sight of him that afternoon
his greeting was “Hello Ezra, how are you?”
The Mayor, replying, said
they really were a happy family, and he did not see why all in that room
should not remain so. They still had to work for the good of the
community, and there was enough good-will in that room to make the area
round Pontefract one of the most successful in the north of England.
They intended that that gathering should take the place of the
Mayoress’s “At Home”, and invitations had been sent to all the local
organisations in which the ladies had a part, where they served the
community much better than they could ever do by coming on to the
Council and the Magisterial Bench. It was exactly 50 years, he
mentioned, since that building in which they were was opened by Earl
Fitzwilliam – in 1882, and of the 33 whose names have appeared on the
commemorative plaque in the vestibule Mr. Pease was the only one alive
today. His part that afternoon was a wonderful testimony to his vigour
at 78. He mentioned that he had had several apologies for absence,
amongst the, one from their M.P., Capt Sotheron-Estcourt.
His worship here called
upon his daughter Elnora to convey and present to Mrs Smith a gold and
enamel brooch bearing the Borough Arms, in order that she might have a
souvenir of her husband’s work in connection with that building
of his wife, Mr. Smith thanked the Mayor for such a charming memento,
which would be highly treasured, and for all the pleasant things they
had said about him and the building. The contractors had worked well,
without a single hitch, and it was very gratifying to know that that
building had been erected entirely by local contractors.
The above account, reproduced from the
Pontefract Advertiser 6th August 1932
was kindly loaned to us by Mr. John O.E. Holmes.