London County Hall

Belevedere Road, London, SE1 7PB

About the venue

County Hall was the headquarters of London County Council (LCC) before accommodating the Greater London Council (GLC). Also known as London County Hall, the building sits on the South Bank of the River Thames. Construction of the Grade II listed structure commenced in 1911, and King George V later opened the building in 1922.

An Edwardian Baroque Style Beauty

Designed by architect Ralph Knott in the Edwardian Baroque style, County Hall, London is faced in Portland stone and was built by Holland, Hannen & Cubitts. After over a decade's work, King George V inaugurated it in 1922. Higgs and Hill built the North and South blocks, adding them in 1936 and 1939. However, it wasn't until 1974 that construction of the island block was finally complete.

The History of London County Hall

The building served as the HQ for London's local government for 64 years. In the 1980s, Ken Livingstone led the Labour-controlled GLC; during that time, they were in conflict with the Conservative government under Margaret Thatcher. Due to its location opposite the Parliament buildings across the river, opposition slogans were a regular sight on the façade of County Hall for more than a year of Thatcher's tenure. In 1986, Margaret Thatcher's government abolished the GLC, and the building lost its role as the London government's seat. Following this, there were talks about the future of the former County Hall London, and Thatcher overruled the relocation of the London School of Economics here from its campus in Westminster.

Before the building was abolished in 1990—transferred to the London Residuary Body—the Inner London Education Authority (IELA) used it. In 1993, a Japanese company bought the main section and began planning to reopen the building as an entertainment centre. A year later, the building's north and south wings saw a refurbishment for residential use. The London Aquarium made its home in its central section in 1997. The High Court of England and Wales upheld a bid by Shirayama Shokusan, the building's owner on 21st October 2005. They wanted to evict the Saatchi Gallery on the grounds of violating the contract which restricted using space for exhibits outside of the rented area.

A Centre of Attractions

County Hall London is a hub for businesses and a site of attractions, including Shrek's Adventure London, the SEA LIFE London Aquarium, and the Namco Funscape amusement arcade. The building also houses two hotels—a 5-star Marriott Hotel and an affordable Premier Inn.

An extension of the building, the County Hall Island Block, underwent demolition in 2006. The Park Plaza Westminster Bridge hotel took its place. An English Heritage blue plaque outside the building commemorates the tenure of the GLC, LCC and the Inner London Education Council at County Hall.