COUNTY HALL: A building we can be proud of
Questions must be asked about the rush of Northumberland County Council to sell off our assets with an apparent lack of respect for previous staff or the history of our land.
It seems to be about making money off County Hall by the increase in the value for building without recognising the wonderful architecture of the present centre, which is the best example of office building of the 20th century.
In 1977, the council still met in Newcastle, its centre being that of the 19th century local authority for the whole area north of the Tyne. Change of boundaries left us in a building in another rated area, out of the way for members.
At the same time, the services required more space than the old hall allowed and we were renting part of the New Regent Centre in Gosforth for social services and education. We were offered the square building in the middle of that island. It had no parking or drop-off ground, but it was only £2million.
I did not feel that it gave us what we needed, and we decided to go for a new County Hall in Morpeth as the county town of Alnwick did not lie in the centre of our county.
It was decided that as our own architects had considerable talent they should design an appropriate building in keeping with the 20th century.
Brickwork was chosen to fit in with that of the 16th century old school in the town, adding a green roof. Stonework was designed for the entrance. The entry glass doors were etched to another in-department design from the county’s history of steam and weapons.
The building was required to be as good as possible for maintenance, heating, water and electric, and was to the standards of the 1980s, with good insulation and double glazing, as well as solar heating from the roof.
I doubt the present incumbents have bothered to look up the records they have.
The council seems to think that this ground will hold houses, and it proposes to smash up a really good building of its period to implant what I would describe as a glasshouse monstrosity, which looks like the worse factory in Ashington.
I wish someone would do something about keeping this place in Morpeth. Perhaps some private firm could see its future for history.
I always thought it would act as a memorial for the wonderful people we used to have working for us.