'Dignified' County Hall to mark 100 years of service

Brian Dooks

TODAY it would cost several millions of pounds, but County Hall in Northallerton – which celebrates its 100th birthday today – was built for 33,000.

The Grade II* listed building, constructed in red brick with stone dressings, was commissioned by the former North Riding County Council to replace 13 offices scattered across Northallerton.

Since 1974 it has been the headquarters of North Yorkshire County Council, whose chairman, Michael Heseltine, will today host a lunch for descendants of some of the people who attended the first official lunch in 1906.

Coun Heseltine said: “I’m delighted to be chairman at a time when County Hall is celebrating the centenary of its official opening.

“Over the years, thousands of decisions have been taken at County Hall which have affected many more thousands of people across North Yorkshire, the region and beyond.

“County Hall is a magnificent building which has stood the test of time in the way it has adapted to the changing needs of local government and the people we serve right across the county.”

County Hall’s architect Walter Brierley, who described the building as “quiet and dignified English Renaissance”, designed the main entrance hall with arched bays supported by columns of polished Derbyshire limestone. On the floor black Belgian and white Sicilian marble creates a chequered design.

Off the main entrance hall a grand stone staircase leads to the heart of the building – the square council chamber with its domed ceiling.

In 1914 the first extension of County Hall took place when a north wing was added. This was followed in 1929 by a south wing, with the east wing’s construction completing the rectangle in 1940.

When the county council was formed in 1889, only the clerk and the surveyor required offices in Northallerton. Now more than 1,000 staff work in County Hall with many working at sites across North Yorkshire.