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Gloucester Shire Hall

The Shire Hall, east of the Boothall extending from Westgate Street through to Bearland, was begun in 1815 and opened the following year. (fn. 32)

 The cost was met by a county rate and the building was vested in the county magistrates but, as the city assizes and quarter sessions were also to use the new courtrooms, the corporation was made responsible for buying the houses that had to be cleared from the site. (fn. 33)

 The new building was designed by Robert Smirke. The front part, opening on Westgate Street by a tall Ionic portico said to be inspired by the temple on the river Ilissus in Greece, included a grand jury room, the office of the clerk of the peace (who had previously occupied a nearby house), and a large public room which was used for concerts during the Three Choirs festival.

The rear part of the building comprised two semicircular courtrooms linked by offices and retiring rooms for the judges and counsel. (fn. 34) The front part was internally remodelled in 1896 to provide a county council chamber and new offices for the clerk of the peace, county treasurer, and county surveyor, and a substantial addition was made on its east side in the years 1909–11. (fn. 35)

Various temporary buildings were put up on the west side of the Shire Hall after 1938. (fn. 36) During the early 1960s the front part of the original building was rebuilt except for the portico (fn. 37) and the whole complex was massively enlarged by blocks of offices added on the west side and extending over Bearland to connect with another new block which incorporated the county police headquarters.

 In the early 1970s another block was built south of Quay Street on the site of the old county militia barracks.

From: ‘Gloucester: Public buildings’, A History of the County of Gloucester: Volume 4: The City of Gloucester (1988), pp. 248-51. URL: http://www.british-history.ac.uk/report.asp?compid=42305. Date accessed: 07 July 2007.

Shire Hall, Westgate Street

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