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About the Civic Centre

Hillingdon's unique civic centre, more than 40 years after it first opened, continues to attract the attention of visitors, architects, photographers and writers.

Civic Centre

In planning the civic centre the council called for a building that would contrast with other buildings in Uxbridge town centre, old and new, yet blend with local styles.

The architects, Robert, Matthew, Johnson-Marshall and Partners achieved that by the use of traditional materials such as red bricks and providing pitched tiled roofs of the sort that can be seen on homes throughout the borough.

Inside, the traditional town hall layout of small offices was abandoned in favour of open plan office floors for council staff linked to a civic suite comprising meeting rooms, councillors' offices, the Mayor's parlour, the council chamber, civic hall and registry office.

Construction

Building work started in 1973 and was undertaken by a main contractor, Higgs and Hill, together with 40 major sub-contractors.

The materials used include:

  • 2,800,000 bricks
  • 750,000 roofing tiles
  • 700 windows
  • 3,250 tonnes of steel reinforcement
  • 40,000 cubic metres of concrete

Covering an area of eight acres, including extensive gardens and the paved entrance square, the building cost £18.5million.

Official opening

The civic centre opened to the public in 1976 after council staff first began to move in and the complex was completed in several further phases during the next 18 months.

The building was officially opened on April 28 1979 by the then Chairman of the British Airports Authority, Norman J Payne, CBE.

Main entrance

This is situated off Uxbridge high street opposite Debenhams. It includes a reception area with staff on hand to assist and direct visitors, a waiting area, rooms for private discussion, public telephones and toilets.

Getting to the Civic Centre

Above the reception area doorway is a large stained glass window. Its theme is town twinning, with the stained glass forming Hillingdon's official badge and the halved coats-of-arms of the borough's twin towns of Mantes-la-Jolie in France and Emden and Schleswig, both in Germany.

Designed by Mrs Jane Gray, the window is one of several works of art commissioned by the council soon after the building opened. Plaques of the twin towns' full coats-of-arms are displayed in the corridor leading from level three to the civic suite.

Council offices

The council's main departments are based in the open plan offices. Some 1,500 council officers work in the departments providing the day to day services to residents and the wider community.

The three main office floors are each equivalent in size to two football pitches, but to provide practical working areas each floor is divided into four split-level quadrants. The floors are linked to the main reception area by lifts, stairs and ramps.

Meeting rooms

Several meeting rooms are situated on level three of the building between the offices and the civic suite.

Elected councillors who make up the council's cabinet and committees meet in these rooms to make decisions concerning the running of the council, its finances and services. The rooms include seats for members of the public who wish to attend as well as journalists.

Mayor's parlour

The Mayor's parlour is a combined lounge and office used for both formal and informal occasions. These include, for example, presentations to local people, social get-togethers, signing ceremonies and receptions for official visitors to the borough.

Chosen annually, the Mayor of Hillingdon receives many invitations to attend community events. Arrangements with the events' organisers, and for the Mayor's annual charity appeal, are made at the parlour.

Official gifts presented to Hillingdon over the years are displayed in the parlour together with a picture gallery of the Mayors of Hillingdon from 1965, when the borough came into existence, to the present day.

The room also houses the borough's civic regalia including the Mace presented to the council by the Nestle Company, Hayes in 1966 and carried before the Mayor on all formal occasions.

Important documents are also on display here. They include the borough's Charter of Incorporation conferred by HM The Queen on March 10 1964 and the scroll from the College of Heralds, dated March 22 1965, granting the council its coat of arms.

Council chamber

The council chamber is the centrepiece of the civic centre. This is where meetings of the whole council of 65 councillors are held on major issues such as setting the annual council tax.

As well as a chair and microphone-equipped table for each councillor, the spacious room includes seating in galleries for members of the public and seats for journalists.

The Mayor chairs council meetings from the raised dais facing councillors' seats. At the back of dais is a metal sculpture of Hillingdon's coat-of-arms made by sculptor Jan Kepinski.

At other times the chamber is used for various council events as well as being let to companies and other organisations for business seminars and similar functions.

To hire the council chamber, or meeting rooms, contact Facilities Management on 01895 256302, 256303 or 256304.

Spiral staircase

The main public access to the council chamber is via a spiral staircase of 45 steps. This sweeps up to the chamber from an entrance off the high street. There are lifts nearby for those who unable to manage the climb.

An eye catching yew wood sculpture hangs the length of the stair well. This is made up of 14 abstract pieces weighing a total of 7cwt and suspended on wire rope. The sculptor, John Phillips, saved the wood from destruction when the trees were cut down in nearby Buckinghamshire to make way for the M40.

At the top of the staircase is the Mayoral Roll. The names of Hillingdon's Mayors are recorded on this slate panel. The decorative border is made up of all the letters of the alphabet and was designed by the original artist, David Kindersley, as a guide for future engravers.

Beside the half way stage of the staircase is a wooden panel where the names of Hillingdon's council Leaders and Chief Executives are recorded.

Councillors

The political groups on the council, Conservative and Labour, each have offices for use by their councillors.

These include for example offices for the Leader of the Council and the cabinet members as well as leading opposition councillors.

Civic hall

The civic hall can seat up to 250 people and has an adjoining bar and lounge area as well as its own entrance for those attending functions.

The council uses the hall for events such as conferences, exhibitions and public meetings but it is also let to outside organisations for wedding receptions, dinners, dances and similar events.

Although modern looking from inside, the hall is housed in the former Middlesex County Building. This was opened in 1940 by the then county council as offices and a public library.

Because of its architectural and historic importance locally, the building was skilfully incorporated into the civic centre. The cupola, or small domed tower, from the older building now has pride of place on the civic centre roof.

To hire the Middlesex Suite please contact the Facilities Management Helpdesk on 01895 250333.

Room hire

Registry office and marriage room

Hillingdon's registry office for the registration of births, deaths and marriages is close to the civic hall.

Civil marriages are conducted in the stylish marriage room that includes attractive window panels of stained glass cut to form an alphabet of flowers. The panels were designed by Mrs Gray who also produced the town twinning window at the civic centre entrance.

Outside the marriage room is a small courtyard with seats and wrought iron work which, together with the nearby gardens, makes an attractive setting for wedding pictures.

For more information about weddings contact 01895 250418 or 250761.

Marriages and civil partnerships

National Heritage List

In May 2018, buildings across England considered post-modern in design were been given listed status, including the Civic Centre. Read more

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Article utilities:  Bookmark and Share Print Print this page Last updated: 24 Oct 2018 at 13:53