Wednesday, 25 March 2009

Wandsworth Town Hall, SW18

Councils used to build enormous town halls simply to show off the power, dignity and prosperity of the borough, with lots of sculpture to reinforce that message. The statuary on Victorian town halls usually glorified the local gentry, merchants and industrialists, but by the time Wandsworth Town Hall was designed in the 1930s the working class was king and the stonework reflects this.
The overall design, by Edward A. Hunt, is neo-Georgian with Art Deco trimmings, but these carvings on the keystones of the doorways in Ram Street are pure 1930s. They show Manual Labour (a sturdy bricklayer with a rather wonderful peaked cap, braces and, lordy! a bow tie) and Motherhood, a timeless figure of a young woman supporting a toddler and giving it the sort of look familiar from a million church Madonnas.
The sculptor was the Manchester-born David Evans, who also carved one of the panels on the High Street frontage, of which more later.

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