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Hatched, Matched And Dispatched- A history of Harrow Civic Centre

As with many town halls, the Civic Centre has been the heart of Harrow for many years. As well as housing the local council offices, the Civic Centre is responsible for recording births, deaths and marriages within the borough and the building also features a registry office where couples can get married. In this article, we’re looking at the history of this significant Harrow site.

A council on the move

Built in 1973, Harrow Civic Centre replaced the original, more modest council building which was located first at 49 High Street and then at number 90. Originally a suburb of London, Harrow became an urban district in 1894 – at which point it was decided that more substantial council premises would be required. This involved a move to Peel Road in Wealdstone where Harrow Council would remain until 1965.

In 1954, Harrow became a municipal borough and, once again, the council had outgrown its premises and so another move ensued – this time to a private residence known locally as Harrow Weald Lodge.

Hatched, Matched And Dispatched- A history of Harrow Civic Centre Harrow Online
Harrow Civic Centre

Making space for growth

When, once again, the council grew too big for their premises, it was time to procure a bespoke building. The Civic Centre as we know it today was previously occupied by a builder’s yard and a primary school, and work began in July 1970 to create suitable council premises. Designed by Eric G. Broughton, the building comprised of a six storey concrete framed building incorporating 30 bays – each containing a window.

The design also included a landscaped courtyard. The actual council chamber itself was constructed to the north east of the main building and a bridge featuring a Whitefriars Glass decorative screen was built to connect the two buildings.

A new era

The new Civic Centre was opened on the 6th of May 1973 by Alderman Henry Grange, the then Mayor of Harrow and, in April 2004, the centre celebrated its 50th year as a royal charter with a visit from the late Queen Elizabeth II and the Duke of Edinburgh. Today, Harrow Council employs hundreds of people and continues to serve the people of Harrow, however, the Civic Centre may be set for yet another incarnation.

Last May, it was announced that the current site on Station Road was to be demolished with many people citing the building as ugly and drab. In its place, it is proposed that much needed affordable housing for the area.

Former leader of Harrow Council, Graham Henson said of the project, “Harrow is crying out for high-quality affordable housing. Too many people are trapped in unsuitable, overcrowded accommodation.

He added, “By making this commitment, we can protect our precious greenbelt and ensure that the development proposals we bring forward are appropriate, sustainable and backed by investment in infrastructure”.

Hatched, Matched And Dispatched- A history of Harrow Civic Centre Harrow Online
Harrow Council’s former Civic Centre Building.

Leader of Harrow Council, Cllr Paul Osborn said: “We want Harrow to be a place where people are happy to start their families and businesses and feel pride in where they live.

“These regeneration plans will deliver attractive, high-quality homes. They will make a difference to communities, businesses, residents and families both now and in the future.”

Housing moves Harrow into the future

As with many other boroughs, Harrow continues to change and evolve and we can only wait and see what may be in store for our council and its buildings in the future.