Granted borough status in 1929, Walthamstow's Grade II listed Town Hall was built in 1938 following a competition to find the best design. The winner of the £500 prize was architect Phillip Hepworth who used Portland Stone for the Town Hall and the Assembly Hall. Incorporated into Hepworth's design were five carved figures by sculptor Francis Cavanagh (a pupil of Henry Moore) that were intended as a tribute to William Morris who was born in Waltham Forest in 1834 and who became honorary godfather to Rudyard Kipling.
The 1930's were difficult years for the borough since war-time restrictions meant that plywood panelling was used for the committee rooms rather than oak, terrazo was used in the foyer instead of marble, and Francis Cavanagh's design for a 20ft x 4ft frieze in the main entrance had to be scrapped altogether, so the citizens of the borough never saw Hepworth or Cavanagh's magnificent vision as the artists intended.
Today, the Town Hall is a hive of activity and a "living building" that has grown and evolved to accommodate the changing needs of those who work within its walls. The historic council chamber is no longer a court room, and the war rooms in the basement are used to store documents. TV crews regularly hire the committee rooms and corridors for filming, whilst the superb acoustics of the Assembly Hall have attracted international recording stars like Placido Domingo, Jessye Norman, and the late Sir Yehudi Menuhin.
Phillip Hepworth's stunning Town Hall design still holds a secret for citizens of the future to uncover. Concealed beneath the coat of arms foundation stone at the main entrance (laid on October 19th 1938 by Mayor Mrs C McEntee J.P.) is an airtight chamber containing a casket of documents that detail the citizen's hopes and plans for the future together with keepsakes of their time!