Beyond the Building: Rochdale Town Hall
Name: Rochdale Town Hall
Location: Rochdale (obviously)
The numbers: Built in 1871 at a cost of at a cost of £155,000, 264 feet (80m) wide,123 feet (37m) deep and is faced with millstone grit quarried from Blackstone Edge and Todmorden, and a clock tower that is 190 feet (58m) tall.
What is its history? It’s described as a glorious example of the Gothic Revival style, and boasts a landmark clock tower and acclaimed stained-glass windows.
Any interesting facts: There is absolutely no evidence to back this up, but it’s believed by some people that Adolf Hitler was a huge admirer of the building, and that’s why Rochdale wasn’t bombed during WWII. It’s impossible to know if this is true, or even how Hitler would have known about the building, but some think he was told about Rochdale Town Hall by William Joyce, also known as the infamous Nazi propaganda merchant Lord Haw-Haw, who came from nearby Oldham. Whatever the reason, Rochdale Town Hall survived the Second World War undamaged, meaning its architectural magnificence remains the much admired, historically significant central point of the town centre.
Controversy: In 1882, dry rot was discovered in the spire and after much deliberation contractors were engaged to dismantle and rebuild it. Things weren’t moving as fast as some would have liked and whether entirely accidental or just an unfortunate coincidence, a few months later the tower caught fire and was destroyed. Many put this down to Oldham’s Fire Service arriving on the scene before Rochdale’s own, despite the fact that Rochdale Fire Service was based in the Town Hall itself.
Do say: “Art critic Nikolaus Pevsner described the Rochdale building as possessing a ‘rare picturesque beauty’.”
Don’t say: “Their Fire Service is rubbish though.”
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