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Original Town Hall Birmingham sketch goes on display

Artwork from 1831 shows how architects of the time envisaged the building ahead of its completion in 1834

 

The original artist's impression of the historic Town Hall Birmingham has gone on public display for the first time.

The 1831 watercolour by W Harris measures just 33 ins by 18.5 ins and is arguably the final piece of the jigsaw for the building which opened in 1834.

Closed for a decade until £35 million worth of restoration work was completed in 2007, the Town Hall is now believed to be the oldest surviving concert hall of its size in the world.

W Harris' 183-year-old painting helped to launch the process of putting Birmingham on the international map.

In today's parlance, it would doubtless be seen as a ‘kick-starter project', a modern multimedia term which post-dates the building of the Council House 40 years later from 1874 - 1879 and, 112 years later again, the opening of the International Convention Centre in 1991.

Seen as a nationally significant art work by experts, the W Harris painting is finally going home thanks to a permanent loan agreement courtesy of the Assay Office in Birmingham and will be on display in the Hall's Joseph Hansom Suite

A fading, handwritten and varnished label attached to the back of the painting identifies it as the competition sketch submitted by architects Joseph Hansom and Edward Welch. Hansom was just 27 at the time of the commission.

Video: Historic Birmingham Town Hall painting 'comes home'

 

History of Town Hall Birmingham

1834 – First event: Triennial Musical Festival

1834 – Birmingham Political Union rallied forces to sustain support for Thomas Attwood – 8,000 men were "packed, showing a sea of faces and heads"

1858 – Queen Victoria visits

1901 – Riot followed an anti-Boer War speech by Lloyd George (he had to be smuggled from the Hall dressed as a policeman)

1920 – City of Birmingham Orchestra’s inaugural Town Hall concert, conducted by Edward Elgar

1927 – Town Hall re-opens following works to reconfigure interior including an additional balcony

2007 – Re-opening of Town Hall following a £35m renovation.

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