Municipal & Council Buildings

Municipal & Council buildings

Municipal Chambers and Burgh Court Hall, Barrhead

Barrhead became a burgh in terms of the Burgh Police (Scotland) Act 1894. It was now in charge of running its own affairs and, therefore, needed an administrative centre. Zechariah John Heys, the town’s second Provost, gifted the land, which lay between his house in Bank Street and his property in Main Street. Mrs Margaret Pollock Glen of Carlibar donated £1000 of the £5000 needed for the building work.

The architects, McWhannell and Rogerson, designed an impressive suite of buildings in a Scots Baronial style, built of bull-faced red sandstone with polished ashlar dressings. It consisted of the Council Chambers with the Burgh Treasurer’s office and a Court Hall, with a short lane dividing the two buildings and elegant wrought iron gates with thistle and lion rampant motifs. Mrs Margaret Pollock Glen of Carlibar gifted the statue of Justice, which stands over the door. The clock situated in the tower was a gift from the fourth Provost of Barrhead, Hugh Paton. The interior design, decoration and woodwork were completed to a high standard, with the Court Hall ceiling being of particular note.

Municipal Buildings in 1996

Council minutes prior to the build, recorded discussions about exactly what use the buildings would be put to, and who would be accommodated. The Court Hall was to have a charge room, at least four cells, a Sergeant’s house (with three rooms and a bathroom) barracks for at least 6 constables, which would include a dining room, 2 sleeping rooms, a bathroom and a lavatory, and a store room.

The memorial stones of the buildings were laid on Saturday 25th October 1902 at 3 o’clock with an assembled 300 guests. The proceedings were led by Rev. Thomas Buchanan and Mrs. Heys of Stonehouse and Mrs. Glen were presented with silver mallets and trowels, with which they went on to lay the stones. Mrs. Hey laying the stone of the Council Chambers and Mrs. Glen that of the Court Hall.

Ceremonial mallet & trowel presented to Mrs. Glen at the laying of the memorial stone on 25th Oct 1902. (East Renfrewshire Heritage Collection)

Less than two years later, the buildings were formally opened on Wednesday 13th April 1904. The same ladies opened the buildings and were this time presented with silver keys to commemorate the occasion. A time capsule containing coins and newspapers of the time and a history of the burgh was placed in the stone.

A newspaper of the time describing the ceremony gives some detail of the interior of the Council Chambers:

The Council Chamber is 21 feet in length and 171/2 feet in breadth. The walls are panelled in dark stained wood, and the room contains an exceptionally handsome fireplace, built of solid grey and red veined marbles and surmounted by the burgh coat of arms and motto ‘Virtute et labore'”

Paisley & Renfrewshire Gazette, 16 April 1904

Although no longer used for their original purpose these buildings remain the finest pieces of architecture in Barrhead.

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