Bush House is back in business. The architectural monolith-cum-mausoleum on Aldwych - built in the early 1930s as a (failed) world trade centre - was my workplace for the best part of three decades. When the BBC evacuated a few years back, King's College, very cleverly, took a fifty-year lease on the building. It's still work in progress, but the students are settling in to some corners of the edifice and - armed with a KCL pass - I snuck back in a couple of days back to see what's occurring.
Intriguingly, King's - or at least its Arts and Humanities faculties - seems to be building a brand round the legend: 'World Service' - the global wing of the BBC which was for decades ensconced in Bush House. And there are nice tributes, and photos by Bogdan our former colleague, in what was the Bush House arcade harking back to the BBC's occupancy of this iconic, if annoying, building.
On that arcade, at just the spot I used to queue up at Bush and Fields (or was it Bush Inn Fields) for my lunchtime sarnie, there's now a student cafe. So of course, I just had to have a sandwich in the same psychic spot that I sandwiched in lives past. Bear with me ...
And - what comes around, goes around - the spot on the arcade which was once the BBC shop is now ... a shop.
Morley may not be the grandest town in the country - but it has got one of the grandest town halls. Take a look! It's glorious - and what a statement of municipal confidence in a town which then had a population of, according to the 1891 census, just 35,000.
Morley got its charter of incorporation as a borough at the end of 1885. The new borough council quickly got on with building a town hall. A competition was held for design - the foundation stone was laid in 1892 - and on 16th October 1895, the Morley-born Home Secretary, H.H. Asquith, came to open the building (the photo below was taken on that day).
It's a Grade 1 listed building and said to bear a resemblance to Bolton Town Hall - though the more obvious comparison is with neighbouring Leeds, where a bigger town hall but in similar style was completed in 1858.
So much for the outside. But inside? Even grander! A revelation. Sixteen exquisite pieces of stained glass, most sponsored by individual members of the council, were unveiled in 1902 - and they are there still along with a white marble bust of Queen Victoria, a black marble bust of Asquith and a wonderful staircase.
The council room was closed, but I was able to take a peep into the Alexandra Hall - still in regular use (I see Wayne Fontana is playing there soon). And on the balcony, there's an extraordinary piece of stained glass - I couldn't get proper access, so I've lifted a couple of photos from the web -
H.H. Asquith returned to Morley Town Hall in 1913 when he was made a freeman of the borough. He left Morley when still very young and moved from Yorkshire when he was about eleven. The family worshipped at the Rehoboth chapel on Dawson's Hill - the chapel is long gone, but the crowded and overgrown graveyard remains. I found the gravestone of Asquith's mother Emily, who died in 1888 aged sixty and was obviously keen to be buried back in Morley - though not alongside her husband.
The memorial - not in the top picture, but centre above right - reads 'Also of / Emily Willans / Asquith / widow of / Joseph Dixon / Asquith / who died in London / December 12th 1888 / aged 60 years'. On the other side is an inscription to 'Joseph Asquith of Morley' who died in 1855 aged 77, and his wife Esther.
And on a personal note - my father, a Liberal (like Asquith) was a member of Morley Council for a few years at the close of the 1950s. My grandfather was chairman of Gildersome Urban District Council for quite a while until its absorption into Morley in 1937. He was a JP and chair of the local magistrates' bench when the Queen came to Morley Town Hall on 28th October 1954.
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