City Hall, Cardiff

City Hall (Welsh: Neuadd y ddinas) is a civic building in Cathays Park, Cardiff, Wales, UK. It serves as Cardiff's centre of local government. It was built as part of the Cathays Park civic centre development and opened in October 1906. Built of Portland stone, it is an important early example of the Edwardian Baroque style. It is a Grade I listed building.[3]

Cardiff City Hall
Neuadd y ddinas

The City Hall logo; "VC" stands for Villa Cardiff.
General information
Architectural styleEdwardian Baroque style
Listed Building – Grade I
Official nameCardiff City Hall
Designated25 January 1966
Reference no.13744[1]
Town or cityCardiff
CountryWales, United Kingdom
ClientCorporation of Cardiff
Design and construction
ArchitectHenry Vaughan Lanchester
James Stewart
Edwin Alfred Rickards


Horace Jones's Town Hall on St Mary Street

The complex was commissioned to replace Cardiff's fourth town hall on the western side of St Mary's Street which had been completed in 1853.[4] Following a design competition, the firm of Lanchester, Stewart and Rickards was selected to design Cardiff's fifth town hall and adjacent law courts in the Edwardian Baroque style.[3] The contractor, E. Turner and Sons, used the world's first all-electrically operated building site, including eight 5 ton cranes to lift the stone blocks. The total building cost was £129,708 (with the concurrently-built Law Courts next door costing £96,583).[2] As Cardiff received its city charter in 1905 while construction was underway, the current building is known as City Hall. The new building was officially opened by Lord Bute on 29 October 1906.[5]

Exterior architecture

Clock tower

The distinctive clock tower is 59 m (194 ft) in height and has a 3.7 m-diameter (12 ft) gilded dial on each of its four faces. The clock mechanism includes an hour bell and four quarter bells which are each inscribed with mottoes in English or Welsh.[6]

Fountains and pool

In front of the entrance portico is a rectangular pool with fountains. The fountains were created to mark the investiture of Prince Charles as Prince of Wales in July 1969.[6]


On the southern side of the building are two memorials: the memorial on the right is dedicated to victims of the Second World War while the one on the left is dedicated to the Polish soldiers, airmen and sailors who gave their lives during that war.[7]

Interior rooms, functions and art collections

Marble Hall

The first floor landing of City Hall is decorated with statues in Pentelicon marble of famous figures from Welsh history. These were funded by a gift from David Alfred Thomas, 1st Viscount Rhondda; the personages to be commemorated were decided by a competition in the Western Mail. The Marble Hall with completed statues was unveiled by David Lloyd George, then Secretary of State for War, on 27 October 1916.[8]

In July 2020, Cardiff City Council voted to remove the marble statue of Sir Thomas Picton, from Cardiff City Hall, on account of his links to slavery.[9][10]

Assembly Room

This room has hosted royalty, international statesmen and diplomats, and can seat 500 diners simultaneously. It is used for miscellaneous ceremonies, conferences and events during the year. It is decorated with mouldings picked out in gold leaf, of mermaids and other sea creatures. Three large bronze chandeliers are contemporary to the original architects' design.[6]

Council Chamber

Council Chamber
The stained glass window in Council Chamber

This is located above the main entrance portico and directly below the main dome of the building. Hanging from the dome is a bronze chandelier designed by Edwin Alfred Rickards. The arrangement is unusual in that the seating is set in a circular pattern whereas normally British council chambers have semicircular seating. The chamber was designed to host Cardiff's Council meetings (which have subsequently been relocated to Atlantic Wharf). The dome of City Hall is supported by four massive pillars of Italian marble with bronze Ionic capitals. The chamber is paneled throughout in oak. The plaster work is by G.P. Bankart and the stained glass window depicts a personification of the City of Cardiff, by Alfred Garth Jones dated 1905.[6]

In popular culture

The cover of the Catatonia single "Mulder and Scully" has a UFO above the building similar to the movie poster for Independence Day.[11]

See also


  1. "Cardiff City Hall, Castle". British Listed Buildings. Retrieved 16 May 2016.
  2. Breverton, Terry (2013). Wales' 1000 Best Heritage Sites (e-Book). Amberley Publishing. ISBN 978-1-4456-2013-8.
  3. Cadw. "Cardiff City Hall (13744)". National Historic Assets of Wales. Retrieved 15 April 2020.
  4. Milnes, J (2000). Photographic Memories- Cardiff. Salisbury: The Francis Frith Collection. p. 50. ISBN 9781845463960.
  5. "Cardiff City Hall and Law Courts – The Opening Ceremonies". The Cardiff Times. Cardiff. 3 November 1906. pp. 4–5. Retrieved 15 November 2020 via Welsh Newspapers Online.
  6. Cardiff Council City Hall Cardiff: Visitor Information Guide Second edition, 2006
  7. "Polish memorial". War Memorials Online. Retrieved 15 April 2020.
  8. Chappell, Edgar L. (1946). Cardiff's Civic Centre: A historical guide. Priory Press., pp. 21–6
  9. "Statue of slave owner Thomas Picton to be removed from Cardiff City Hall". BBC. 23 July 2020. Retrieved 25 July 2020.
  10. "Work begins on removing statue of slave owner Sir Thomas Picton in Cardiff after motion passed". ITV. 24 July 2020. Retrieved 25 July 2020.
  11. Owens, David (2000). Cerys, Catatonia And The Rise Of Welsh Pop. Ebury Press. ISBN 978-0091874124.

Further reading

  • Chappell, Edgar L. (1946), Cardiff's Civic Centre: A historical guide, Cardiff: Priory Press
  • Egan, T. M. (1989), "Cardiff's Own": Paintings from the City Hall, Cardiff: Welsh Arts Council
  • Fellows, Richard (1995), Edwardian Architecture: Style and technology, London: Lund Humphries
  • Gaffney, Angela (1998), "'A National Valhalla for Wales': D. A. Thomas and the Welsh historical sculpture scheme, 1910–1916.", Transactions of the Honourable Society of Cymmrodorion, 5, pp. 131–44, archived from the original on 2 January 2014, retrieved 2 January 2014
  • Hilling, John B. (1973), Cardiff and the Valleys: Architecture and townscape, London: Lund Humphries
  •  ———  (2016), The History and Architecture of Cardiff Civic Centre: Black Gold, White City, Cardiff: University of Wales Press
  • Morey, Ian (2008), British Provincial Civic Design and the Building of Late-Victorian and Edwardian Cities, Lewiston, NY and Lampeter: E. Mellen Press
  • Newman, John (1995), Glamorgan, The Buildings of Wales, London: Penguin
  • Service, Alastair (1979), Edwardian Architecture: A handbook to building design in Britain, 1890–1914, London: Thames & Hudson