Town Hall

Town Hall or Lahore Metropolitan Corporation Hall is located on the west at junction of Upper and Lower Mall Roads. Originally built as Victoria Jubilee Town Hall "dedicated to the joyful memory of the fiftieth year of the reign" of Queen Victoria, the building was begun in February 1887. Its foundation stone was laid by Charles Aitchison, Lieut. Governor of the Punjab, and the opening took place with great fanfare and ceremony attended by Prince Albert Victor on February 3, 1890.

This structure, although not very large, has an impressive presence. Consisting of two storeys, it has a large hall 80' x 40' wide on the first floor, while the ground floor is dedicated to offices. As was usual with town halls of the British period, the beautifully decorated hall, with its excellent teak floor, was used for exclusive functions such as dances, concerts and meetings, although the prince in his opening speech said that he hoped that it would also be utilized for "wise and quiet debates."

As a result of a competition, the winning design, with a prize of Rs. 500, was chosen from several competitive entries. The design was prepared by Pogson, a Madras architect. Having been designed "on an oriental principle," as noted in contemporary accounts, the building incorporates elements derived from Muslim architectural traditions. The square corner towers are the dominating element of the ensemble, and incorporate arch forms from varied sources Mughal and Sultanate Period lancet-arches along with Spanish horse-shoe arches, reflect the influence of Robert Fellows Chisholm of Madras rather than that of Swinton Jacob of Jaipur. The choice of Pogson demonstrates the partiality felt for Madras by the Lahore Administration, they having earlier chosen the design of another Madras architect, J.W. Brassington, for the impressive Chief Court (High Court) building.

The two-storey middle section of the building carrying an enormous lancet arch alcove is flanked by the massive three-storey corner towers, the roof line terminating with castle-like merlons. The corner towers are capped by a central dome and four onion shaped corner cupolas. In spite of its 'oriental' imagery, and use of moldings, the detailing is comparatively simple and the flourish of molded brick or terra-cotta fretwork, found in the earlier Chief Court or the nearby Mayo School, is not in evidence.

The building which was completed at a cost of Rs. 60,000, has been restored and cleaned in recent years, and once again proudly presents its original brick facing. The landscaped forecourt is dominated by an attractive fountain, said to be a gift of Raja Harbans Singh.

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