The Birmingham & West Midlands group of the Victorian Society have named Sandwell Council as the winners of their 2019 Conservation Award for the restoration of Smethwick Council House.
The Grade II-listed Council House was built 1905-7 and was designed by architect Frederick J. Gill of Smethwick, in a style that has been described as a “free, somewhat Baroque, William & Mary” and is built of red-brick and buff terracotta.
The building has two-storeys with a central portico, as well as a slate-hung tower and cupola containing a chiming clock by Smiths of Derby. The bells hang in the cupola above the dials.
The £350,000 programme of works included extensive renovations to the external elevations and the roof, with the prominent clock tower refurbished and the terracotta façade restored. Over one hundred damaged terracotta blocks were replaced; the entire pitched roof was re-slated with Westmorland slate to match the original roof; internal and external repairs and redecoration to two ornate domes and repainting in original colourways, resulting in an altogether successful and magnificent restoration project.
Stephen Hartland, Chairman of the Birmingham & West Midlands group, said:
“This was such an impressive restoration of a particularly striking local Edwardian building, it is highly deserving of this year’s prize. It stood out among other applicants in so many ways, not least the high-quality materials used in the conservation and restoration work”
Stephen Benson, CEO of Hortons' Estate, who generously sponsor the Award, said:
“Hortons’ Estate Ltd are delighted to continue to support the Victorian Society and to sponsor the 2019 Conservation Award which showcases the excellent and necessary work undertaken in restoring valuable buildings in Birmingham and the West Midlands area. The Council House in Smethwick is an excellent example of a prominent, listed civic building being brought back to its former glory and effective economic use."