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Newcastle-under-Lyme Civic Offices - Autumn 2021

The Civic Offices were opened circa 1963, to the designs of architects Bradshaw Gass & Hope. The buildings replaced earlier municipal buildings such as the Municipal Hall on the Ironmarket which was controversially demolished in 1967 and the Guildhall on the High Street which still stands. The council relocated once again in 2018 to the £15.4 million Castle House development nearby. The Civic Offices site along with a nearby former supermarket site were initially earmarked for a retail development however those plans fell through leaving the Civic Offices standing disused. Recently new plans have been formulated for a residential/commercial development which will see a new office building built in place of the existing Civic Offices building (so much for ‘re-use and recycle’ principles). Soft stripping and asbestos removal works began in the Autumn and the site is expected to be cleared around summer time 2022.

Aside from the usual modernisation, the buildings seemed to largely be as they would have been originally, with the only major change being the creation of a new main entrance at some point which was created in the void between the top of the bunker area and the first floor. Given that soft stripping was well underway by the time I first saw the place there wasn't a huge amount to see inside to give much indication as to what anything used to be. Some areas still retained original paneling and the staircases were relatively intact and complete with nice detail, so at least there was something worth looking at. Some large chunks of the building were sealed off for asbestos removals, from what you could see these were already essentially back to the structural materials so there was little point investigating those further.

Archive image from 1973 for a celebration marking the 800th anniversary of the Borough.

A couple of externals from Merrial Street showing the original main entrance with the large double sided coat of arms. The architectural style is probably not to everyone's taste, but I like it and I'm sure the genericness which replaces it will disappoint me.

Inside the original entrance, the nice vestibule on the right gives some indication as to what much of the interior was once like.

Dropping down to the lower ground level, this area contained storage rooms, server room, switchgear rooms and a number of strong rooms, one of which is currently being used as the demolition crews store.

Beneath the lower ground floor is the main plant room. Signage is still in place from the original installation which utilised coal fed boilers. These have since been replaced with "modern" gas fired appliances, a large standby generator is located down here too.

At ground level, one wing of the building housed the payment halls, although now completely stripped out.

At the far end of the wing is an interesting stair way leading up to the council debating chamber with viewing gallery above.

The viewing gallery overlooking the chamber, the crest on the far wall is marked to be saved.

Behind the viewing gallery is an antiquated ventilation plant room.

The floor of the debating chamber. Remnants of the seating etc can be seen piled up in the middle.

Mayor's parlour with some of the old décor peaking through in the corner.

Members Room with Committee Room through the double doors.

Concourse.

Top floor of the main stair case showing the coat of arms.

Typical stripped out area, originally the accountancy office.

Central section of the first floor. Rooms to the left were originally the typing pool, media and graphics department and the telephone switchboard. On the right were personnel and payroll.

Top floor central corridor which had nice central skylights. These areas housed the legal department and property department including the Borough engineers and architects.

A few shots of the secondary staircase to the rear of the building.

Newcastle-under-Lyme Borough Council District Emergency Centre

Now to the bit that really grabbed my attention when I was digging into the place, the District Emergency Centre. Typical of the era, most municipal facilities built around then featured some kind of hardened structure. In Staffordshire all nine councils had similar facilities along with the more substantial regional government bunkers. Disappointingly aside from the structure itself there was little left. clearly it had been stripped out some time ago and had been used for storage purposes. The facility has level access via a dog leg corridor off of the lower ground floor and also what appear to be two small shafts at either ende. Pretty much the only emergency centre remnant is the ventilation system utilising components from Andair AG and the decontamination showers. The main access doesn't feature any kind of blast door, so presumably this was removed when it became storage space.

Storage room at the far end, blast door in the corner leading to a shaft up to a manhole in the pavement above.

One of two decontamination showers.

These rooms were marked as being a laboratory on a plan that I found, you can make out where there looks to have been some sort of perimeter benching. Through the door way was the kitchen, however that is completely empty.

The still extant ventilation units. No filter units seem to be present, maybe they were removed when the soil pipe was installed for the adjacent set of toilets. Blast door on the right which leads to one of the shafts, above this is the main entrance "extension" presumably there would have once been a manhole or something above this.

The main operations room, the small windowed room being the control room. Through the doorway are the communications and radio rooms, which retain a small amount of telecoms equipment but nothing of particular interest. More storage space on the right hand side.

The towns motto is "Prisca Constantia" as seen on the coat of arms, it apparently means ancient and loyal.