Sandwell Council receives honour for restoration of Smethwick Council House

Sandwell Council has received its restoration award for its work renovating Smethwick Council House.

The restored Smethwick Council House
The restored Smethwick Council House

The Victorian Society awarded the council the honour in 2019 but due to Covid-19 the council have only just been presented with the award.

The Deputy Lieutenant for the West Midlands, Mr John Wood presented Sandwell Council with the Victorian Society’s Birmingham and West Midlands Group’s Conservation Award.

Mr Wood was shown details of the restoration work and met members of the Victorian Society and representatives from Sandwell Council and Darwen Terracotta who worked on the building which opened in 1907.

The unveiling of the plaque and presentation of the 2019 Conservation Award was delayed by Covid restrictions.

Stephen Hartland, chairman of the Victorian Society’s Birmingham and West Midland’s Group, said: ‘The impressive quality of the restoration ensures that the building will be preserved for a long time into the future.’

"Despite Sandwell council being one of the poorest in the country no corners were cut in the ‘outstanding’ restoration of the Grade II listed Edwardian Council House which is currently used for community services."

The Mayor of Sandwell, Councillor Mushtaq Hussain, said: “On behalf of the people of Smethwick and Sandwell more widely, I would like to thank His Royal Highness and The Victorian Society for honouring us with this conservation award.

“We are lucky to have such a great asset in the borough which, due to the conservation work being recognised today, will continue to serve the community for many years to come.”

The beautiful brick and terracotta building, by architect Frederick J Gill, includes cupolas and is surmounted with a clock tower containing a chiming clock by John Smith & Sons of Derby. This is now the only example of its type which still works by clockwork and has not been converted to electricity.

By 2017 the building was in a poor state of repair, so Sandwell Council began restoration work. Hundreds of terracotta blocks were individually examined and more than 100 replaced. The entire pitched roof was re-slated with carefully selected Westmorland slating and beautiful lead-sheet work, by Castle Roofing. The clock tower was also completely re-decorated to its original colour scheme.

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