Dudley in the West Midlands, as it stands today, has many remnants of the roaring ’20s. These were the years in which the town received many new public buildings. One of the most magnificent in my opinion is the Town Hall, the centre for the town’s civic elements: entertainment, justice, administration, and education. The carvings that adorn the building are striking, and I think epitomise 1920s design. The photographs below show a tympanum between two beautiful Corinthian columns on the north-west facing part of the building. They depict monk and a warrior: both significant figures for the town, which has a Norman castle and a ruined Clunaic priory within a mile of this building. Much of the carving on the War Memorial Tower was executed by the Birmingham sculptor, William James Bloye.
Everywhere you look, there are delightful stone carvings
I also love these lions, which were added to the building in 1936, with their defined curly manes, ingrained whiskers, and rings balanced in their gaping mouths. Though later than the main building, they were also the handiwork of William James Bloye, thus greatly in character.
Walk around the corner of the street, and you step back in time a couple of decades as you see the magnificent library building, which is adjacent to the Town Hall. Dudley Library was built in 1909 in the Baroque Edwardian style. It looked particularly grand on the sunny autumnal day on which I took these photographs.
The architect was G.H. Wenyon of Dudley, who won a competition to design the town’s library after Andrew Carnegie donated £7,500 for it to be built. YES! The very same Carnegie who built Carnegie Hall in New York was responsible for Dudley getting this lovely library!
GH. Wenyon also designed the beautiful sculptures: the allegorical figures of Literature and Science over the doorway, and Philosophy on the apex. Isn’t she beautiful?
Her position here symbolises idea that philosophy is at the apex of all branches of knowledge. I found it reassuring to see that she’s still there, looking over the town more than a hundred years after she was put in her lofty position.