The Royal Commission on the Historical Monuments of England became responsible for the Survey
of London on the abolition of the Greater London Council in 1986. County Hall is, therefore, the
first major volume from the Survey of London to be published by the Royal Commission. It is also
the seventeenth monograph to appear in the Survey of London series, marking the revival of a
tradition, begun by the first Survey Committee, of publishing single volumes on individual buildings
in parallel with the more substantial parish volumes. After 1945 the monograph series fell into
abeyance, although studies of individual buildings, such as Brooke House and the Covent Garden
Theatres, were published as part of the parish sequence. The earlier monographs were used to
highlight the plight of some threatened building, as with those on The Trinity Hospital in Mile End
of 1896, or Eastbury Manor House, Barking of 1917: both buildings were saved in consequence.
Occasionally, as in 1937 with The Queen's House, Greenwich, the monograph celebrated what was
seen as a triumphant restoration.
When the Greater London Council was abolished, it seemed appropriate to record the County
Hall, built by the London County Council to house London's first elected government, and for
over sixty years its centre, being both council chamber and administrative offices. This book
discusses the history and architecture of the building which served the County of London as an
Hôtel de Ville. Though not as ostentatious as some of its contemporaries and much less grand than
some aspiring designers would have had it – as this volume reveals – it is still a very proud and
important building, worthy of its prominent site. In view of the two London county councils'
record of support and aid to the Survey of London it is very proper that it should be the Survey
staff who have recorded their headquarters.
On behalf of the Royal Commission I would like to thank the many people who have contributed
to the volume through their help and advice, most of whom are mentioned by name in the list of
acknowledgements. It was begun under the Chairmanship of my predecessor, the Earl Ferrers.
Various Commissioners have contributed advice and expertise, but particular thanks are due to Mrs
Bridget Cherry and Dr Derek Keene for the interest they have taken in the progress of the volume.
It almost goes without saying that the book could not have been written without the help provided
by past members and officers of the Greater London Council, whose names are noted elsewhere,
and by the staff of the London Residuary Body.
As with all Survey publications, it is the work of a team of writers and researchers. The major
part of the first draft, and much of the research has been contributed by Anthony McIntyre, with
additional material from John Greenacombe, Derek Holdaway and Stephen Porter. Pat Reed and
Gillian Duane were responsible for the early research, and additional work has been carried out by
Ann Robey, Bridgett Jones and Colin Thom. The General Editor of the Survey of London, Hermione
Hobhouse, was responsible for the concept of the book, and its editing, and has also contributed
some original research and part of the text. The figures in the book were drawn by the Survey
draughtsmen, Mike Clements and Ron New, while original photography was carried out by Derek
Kendall of the Royal Commission's staff and the GLC Photographic Unit under the direction of
Park of Monmouth