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Historic Building Details

HB Ref No:
HB16/28/018 B

Extent of Listing:
Building, steps and railings

Date of Construction:
1880 - 1899

Address :
Town Hall Bank Parade Newry Co Down BT35 6HP


Survey 2:

Date of Listing:
15/12/1981 00:00:00

Date of De-listing:

Current Use:
Town hall

Former Use
Town hall

Conservation Area:

Industrial Archaeology:





OS Map No:
266/7 NW

IG Ref:
J0858 2666

Owner Category

Local Govt

Exterior Description And Setting

A two-storey building in brick with granite dressings. Erected on the Armaghdown Bridge over the Newry River beside Bank Parade to symbolise the unification of the two counties within the newly created municipality. The main block has a hipped natural slate roof with terracotta ridge tiles and finials. The various chimneys rise from the side and rear walls and will be described with each elevation. Front elevation: The façade, which faces north, comprises a three-bay symmetrical block to front and lower one-bay wing to either side, all over a projecting ashlar granite base course. The walls are of red brick with granite trimmings to the openings. A metal railing on finely dressed granite chamfered base runs across the front of the building, returning either side of a square ashlar pier at either side of two granite steps (now covered by modern granite side ramps and projecting plinth), which lead up to an entrance porch at centre. This comprises a pair of Doric columns on low bases which support an entablature, the blocking course of which has a square-based ball finial at either end, is inscribed ‘Town Hall’. Above it is a granite cartouche which bears the town’s coat of arms (seated bishop between yew trees) and over which is a segmental broken pediment. The entire porch is of finely dressed grey granite with the exception of the columns which are of polished brown granite. The entrance opening has an imposted semicircular head (with projecting keystone), and panel detailing to the sides. Immediately behind it are two ornate wrought-iron gates rising to impost level and a fixed metal grill in arch above. The bays immediately beside the entrance are identical to each other and project forward slightly. Each has three moulded granite platbands running across the ground floor - at window cill level, above the window lintel, and at the base of the storey above. The edges of both projections are trimmed with stepped granite quoins, which have scrolled steps to outer edge, just above the middle platband. The window opening is set within a recessed panel which has stepped granite block quoins and imposted semicircular head (with finely dressed granite voussoirs). The window itself is top opening 3/3 timber, with granite cill and lintel; the space between the lintel and arched head is infilled in brick. Immediately above the porch pediment at first floor level is a Venetian window; the platband across the top of the ground storey forms its cill (it has a small acroterion at each side of head). The bays at either side are edged with terracotta and have Corinthian headed corner pilasters, which rise to parapet level. Each side bay has a recessed window opening, with semicircular head, trimmed with granite edging (footed, imposted and keystoned). The window itself has 1/2 timber framed. Above the opening is a decorated terracotta panel set into the wall. Two shallow platbands of plain brick and a third of moulded brick run across the three bays above the heads of the pilasters. The wall terminates in an ashlar granite cornice below which are three courses of brick specials – a dentil course topped by egg and dart and ball flower moulded bricks. A brickwork attic storey rises over the central bay. In its centre is a clock set within a granite panel flanked by small terracotta Corinthian headed brick pilasters and narrow semicircular-headed louvred openings. A cornice identical to that on the main wall runs above and is surmounted by a granite pediment. Apex carries an acroterion with anthemion motif. There are two shell-moulded acroterions to the pediment ends. The tympanum bears a terracotta panel inscribed ‘1893’ in brickwork infill and three-course cornice as below. A brick and granite balustrade surmounts the two side bays. The square profile granite balusters are separated by brick piers and finished with a moulded granite top rail. The corner piers are topped with granite urn finials. On each side of, and setback from, the main façade are lower one-bay wings, also of brick with granite trim. The three platbands across the adjoining bays continue across on either side and divide the wings into three sections. The bays’ two bottom sections are identical and have v-jointed granite quoins (not stepped). The ground floor section contains a top opening 1 / 2 window set within a stepped granite opening which has a stop-end chamfered lintel. The middle section has a single-pane window in a circular opening, which has a granite surround with keystone and a stopped hood mould. The top section of each wing differs. That to left is a later addition, of plain brick with a granite acroteria (probably salvaged from the original parapet in this location) at the outer end of its moulded granite coping. The top section of the right wing is set back slightly from a brick parapet (coped with granite and with an acroteria at end) over the floor below. It contains a 1 / 2 casement window, the opening of which is trimmed with stepped granite and a stop-end chamfered lintel. This window opening is set within a panel defined by brick piers either side. Across the top of this wall is a brick parapet with concrete copping and granite acroteria at top outer corner. Left elevation: This elevation, which fronts The Mall is finished at the right hand side by the wing described above and a two/ three-storey extension to left of centre. At extreme left is the gable of a rear extension. Of the main block (i.e. the three bay structure which forms the bulk of the main façade), only a small part in the middle and the upper floor is now visible. At ground floor middle is a large canted bay window in brick over a chamfered granite base course. A metal railing on granite plinth runs in front of this bay with ramp to form a disabled entrance. Its window openings share a common moulded granite cill course and have post and lintel surrounds, also in granite and with chamfered edges. The middle cant has a 2/2 window with two 1/1 flankers, all top opening. The cheeks have slightly wider 1/1 top opening windows. A brick parapet runs across the top; it has a moulded granite coping and small pediment over the middle window. At first floor level is a row of three pairs of windows which light the main hall. The pair at right are abutted by the later add-on and only their heads are now visible. The unabutted windows have a continuous moulded granite cill with raised brick aprons. The openings have raised semicircular heads (with fluted keystones) and chamfered edges. A decorative terracotta platband runs across at arch spring level, thus forming an impost at each opening. A moulded brick platband runs just below. Above and between each set of windows is a circular window with raised brick reveal and keystone. A continuous dentiled platband runs along the wall at parapet level, rising over each roundel. The brick parapet above has a moulded brick coping and brick panels edged with moulded brick. A stepped brick bellcote rises at left on this parapet; it has a moulded granite capping, but the bell is missing. To its right is a granite capped brick chimney. At extreme right of this wall, the head of a seventh window protrudes above the later add-on; it has granite trimming and appears to be of similar design to those at first floor front. Directly above it and to each side is a terracotta panel with floral design. Above these is a continuation from front of the three-course brick special cornice, finished with granite string and the balustered parapet. This window is also flanked at left and right by a Corinthian headed pilaster (capital in terracotta), that to left rising to a granite-capped chimney which also forms the terminal pier to the balustered parapet. The front façade’s left wing takes up the right section of this elevation. Its brick walls rise from a chamfered ashlar granite base course. The frontal platbands continue around this elevation. The granite quoins at left are stepped; there is a scrolled kneeler above the middle platband. At left two granite steps rise to a timber door (with 8 fielded panels) which has a 1/2 casement window to its left; the latter has a fielded granite panel below. Both the door and window are set within a granite panel flanked by stepped granite pilasters under a pedimented entablature. To right of entrance is a pair of 2/1 casement windows, both with metal grilles over, and with trim detail and platband cill identical to the front window of this wing. Directly above entrance between middle and top platband is a large rectangular window opening with trim identical to the one below. The window comprises three, all stained glass transoms over four casements. To right is a pair of circular windows identical to that at front. The different brick colouration confirms that the top section of this wing is a later addition. This elevation has five equally spaced top-hung 1/1 windows with concrete cills and heads. Above and between these are four small granite panels. The roof of this section is flat and edged with moulded granite blocks, with acroteria at the ends. The left cheek of this wing is plain save for the platbands which follow through from the side. To left of centre is an original two-storey wing, which has been extended forward at a later date to form a three storey street frontage. Only the inside right elevation of this wing retains its original detailing. A ramp leads up to a ground floor fire door set in a granite surround. Above it, at half landing level, is a 2/2 window with surround detailing as main façade. Above it is a circular window, again with identical detailing to façade. The three-storey extension to street is of red brick throughout with a flat roof. It incorporates reused portions of the original façade of this wing. It sits on a chamfered granite base course and there is a continuous granite stringcourse in line with the ground floor window lintel. Abutting its right rear quoin is a shallow projecting wall of stepped granite blocks which rises two storeys with a scroll kneeler between ground and first floor – this is all that survives of the original façade to this wing. At left of the street frontage to the extension is a large door opening, to the right of which is a set of three 1 / 2 casement windows with trimming as main façade. At first floor are four equally spaced 1/1 top-hung timber casement windows with concrete lintels and cills. There are five1/1 top-hung casement windows at second floor, sharing continuous granite cills and heads. A granite strip has been inserted into the brick panel between each of these top floor openings. The left cheek of this extension abuts a three-storey return. The rear return is of brick and rests on a rock-faced coped ashlar granite base course. It has a parapetted flat roof. The street frontage is flanked by granite quoined buttresses. Between these an ashlar granite stringcourses divides each floor level and a panel in the top section carries a granite stone bearing the date ‘1913’. Rear elevation: This elevation comprises a flat-roofed block at left (four windows wide), and the lower 1913 extension at right (two windows wide). The left block is an addition to the rear elevation of the main block, only the parapetted brick wall of which is actually visible, complete with two chimneys. The rear elevation of this block faces downstream and its wall rises from the coped parapet of the Armaghdown Bridge. It is symmetrically arranged with four semi-circular arched openings to the ground floor, four segmental arched openings to the first floor and four round headed double height windows above. There are shallow brick pilasters (in line with the bridge piers) to the sides and centre, all terminating in brick chimneys above the parapet. A granite string course runs across just above the cill line of the top set of windows, a moulded brick platband at the spring line of the heads of these windows, and there is a moulded brick cornice below the granite coped parapet. A cast-iron downpipe runs either side of the middle pilaster. The ground floor has four semicircular openings. The two at left have decorative wrought-iron grilles over later brick infilling. The two openings at right each have a four-paned window, the cills of which are formed by the parapet coping of the bridge. There are four four-paned timber windows at first floor level, with segmental brick heads and granite cills. Above are four tall five-paned windows with semicircular heads (with brick imposts, fluted terracotta keystone and drip moulds), granite cills and raised aprons (incorporating ventilators). The block at right rises to half way up the top windows of the left block. There are three window openings vertically in line at left, and two at right, the lower of which is at stair half landing level, the upper is level with top left hand window. All have segmental brick heads, granite cills and contain four-paned timber windows. A coped parapet runs above a moulded brick platband at eaves level. The right gable is bounded by the granite quoined buttress flanking the left elevation as described above. Right elevation: This elevation, which faces Bank Parade, is abutted at left by the right wing of the main façade and on the right by the side of the rear addition described above. In the centre is the sidewall of the main block. Much of the detailing on the upper section of the main block is similar to the left elevation but the composition varies. There are three small and one larger windows to the ground floor, all segmental headed with granite cills. Only the first from the left has the original timber casement – the rest are modern replacements. Immediately above are two small and one large windows, all with segmental heads and granite cills. The larger one, in line with larger window to ground floor, is a modern replacement in an original opening. Above again are two pairs of tall semicircular-headed windows identical in detailing to those on the left elevation (and with associated circular windows above). The wall is topped by a parapet, which is relieved by six moulded brick panels with instepped corners, symmetrically arranged about the central chimney. The returning higher level parapet from the front façade terminates in a further chimney. All the windows are fixed timber, with the exception of the top tall window from the left which has been converted into a doorway for a metal escape stair which runs down the wall. This door is timber with six fielded panels. Another fire exit door is in an original opening below the second tall window from the left. To the right, the side of the rear block abuts. This is three storeys in height, one window wide, with matching wall detailing to the rear elevation as described above. At ground level is a door with segmental head, above which is a segmental headed window. At top is a tall semicircular headed window, to left of which is a small fire escape door leading on to a metal balcony which joins up with the fire stairs at left. At left is the return of the lower side wing to the front façade, three storeys in height with a natural slate hip roof. It sits on a stepped chamfered ashlar granite base course (as the main façade). The quoins at left are horizontally V-channelled; there are no quoins to the right corner. There are continuous moulded granite cill courses to ground and first floors, with a third cornice at base of parapet level, corresponding to cill course level on the upper part of the front façade. The top storey is set back from the front façade, with a hipped slated roof rising behind a solid brick parapet. At ground floor left are a pair of 1 / 2 casement windows (stained glass) with granite lintel and stepped quoin surround, with all edges chamfered. To the right is a similar but smaller window. At first floor left are a pair of 1 / 2 casement windows, similar to those below but smaller and with plain glass. To the right is a four paned timber casement window with three transoms above, also with granite surround and lintel. The parapet above this floor has a small granite acroterian at each corner. The top storey sits back from this parapet. It has a centrally placed pair of timber 1 / 2 casements with granite surround matching those below. Above this is a brick parapet with shallow piers with moulded coping and acroterian at each of the two exposed corners. The right cheek of this wing has a fire escape door between first and second floor level. The detailing of the main block at this end is as the left elevation, with two brick pilasters with terracotta Corinthian capitals, central terracotta relief panel, and raised/ stepped brickwork cornice under the top granite platband and parapet.


Batt, William

Historical Information

Although the need for a purpose-built town hall had been mooted at a public meeting in summer 1887, it was not until March 1890 that the Newry Town Commissioners announced an architectural competition for the design of such a hall. Of the 14 proposals submitted, that by William Sterling of Dublin was chosen on account of its architectural merit, modest cost and fact that much of the existing Savings Bank on Sugar Island (now the Arts Centre) could be incorporated in the new building. However, at their July meeting, the Commissioners opted to erect the new hall over the Newry River rather than utilize the Savings Bank site. They had already agreed to erect a bridge across the river opposite the old Savings Bank, and they thought it more economical to widen the bridge to accommodate the new building than demolish the bank. Nothing came of any of these proposals, and so the Commissioners instigated a new competition in spring 1891, with the proviso that the cost was not to exceed £5000. Six designs were received, of which two were rejected as being too costly. Of the four remaining, that by William Batt of Belfast (who submitted under the pseudonym ‘Caroline’) was chosen by the Commissioners’ adjudicator, Thomas Drew, even though it cost more and accommodated fewer people than set out in the design brief. Batt’s proposed hall was to be located on the new bridge then under construction. To minimise the load on it, hall’s side and party walls were to rest over the abutments and piers rather than the arches. There was also to be a fire station at the rear, complete with belfry for a hand-operated alarm bell. Batt was accordingly appointed as architect in August 1891. This was not the end of the matter. Sterling, who had won the first competition, complained (to no avail) that his design had been rejected out of hand on the basis that he told the Commissioners at the outset that it would cost more that £5000 – even though it subsequently transpired that Batt’s would also exceed this amount. Doubts were also expressed by the Newry Trades’ Council regarding the suitability of the bridge to carry the building – this may, however, had more to do with a dispute between the contractor of the bridge, one David Mahood of Newry, and his workers, than with any real concern about the bridge’s structural stability. The most serious dispute was, however, between the Commissioners and the contractors they appointed – Collen Brothers of Portadown. The contractors insisted on the insertion of clauses in the contract pertaining to arbitration (in case a dispute should arise) and to strikes. Collens’ principal objection was to a clause which would hold them responsible for any subsidence of the bridge being constructed by Mahood. Unfortunately Collens then went on to admit to not having read the conditions of tender, so it was with some justification that Batt felt able to reject all their appeals. The upshot was that, in January 1892, Messrs Collen withdrew from the contract. Collens’ tender had been for £6632, and the next lowest tender was for £6850 by Messrs Dickson and Campbell. The third lowest was Mahood’s, for £7177 - £545 higher than Collens, but only £327 above Messrs Dickson. Although some of the Commissioners argued that the contract should go to Mahood as he was both local and had been responsible for the bridge, it was decided to readvertise the contract. Only Mahood retendered, at his original price, and so was awarded the contract for the town hall’s construction in March 1892, some five years after the proposal was first mooted. Work began the following month (it seems that Mahood had already extended the bridge downstream from its width as originally proposed). The building was opened by the Earl of Kilmorey in March 1894. The final cost was in the region of £12,000, more than twice the anticipated spend; however the good news was that there was to be no increase in the rates. In 1895, Batt was asked to submit a proposal to add a tower so that the clock was more visible and the bell more clearly heard. A sketch in the Irish Builder of 15 Nov 1895 shows that in the north-east corner of the building. However, his proposal came to nothing. Minor hall added to back in 1913. Primary Sources: 1. Irish Builder, vol.29, p.199 (15 July 1887); 2. Irish Builder, vol.32, p.112 (1 May 1890); 3. Irish Builder, vol.32, pp.138-9 (1 June 1890); 4. Irish Builder, vol.32, p.168 (15 July 1890); vol.33, p.98 (1 May 1891); 5. Irish Builder, vol.33 (15 May 1891); vol.33, p.143 (1 July 1891); vol.33, p.178 (1 Aug 1891); 6. Irish Builder, vol.33, p.229 (15 Oct 1891); 7. Irish Builder, vol.33, p.280 (15 Dec 1891; includes sketch); 8. Irish Builder, vol.34, p.28 (1 Feb 1892); 9. Irish Builder, vol.34, pp.38-9 (15 Feb 1892); 10. Irish Builder, vol.34, p.49 (1 Mar 1892); 11. Irish Builder, vol.34, p.61 and p.69 (15 Mar 1892); 12. Irish Builder, vol.35, p.15 (15 Jan 1893); 13. Irish Builder, vol.36, p.85 (1 April 1894); 14. Irish Builder, vol.37, p.263 (15 Nov 1895). 15. Scale drawing in cover to ‘Newry – proud people’ (ed. G. Fay).

Criteria for Listing

Architectural Interest

A. Style B. Proportion C. Ornamentation D. Plan Form H-. Alterations detracting from building I. Quality and survival of Interior J. Setting K. Group value

Historic Interest

Y. Social, Cultural or Economic Importance X. Local Interest


A two-storey building in brick with granite dressings, erected on the Armaghdown Bridge over the Newry River. The granite detailing of the portico, pediment and reveals gives interest to an otherwise plain building. Internally, the public rooms retain their high Victorian detailing. The building occupies a prominent location in the town and is unique in straddling a county boundary on a bridge.

General Comments

Date of Survey

06 April 2000