The description below is from the ‘In Your Area’ post for Reach plc, published on the anniversary of the wood-block engravings publication.
On this day 15th. August in 1874 this antique print was published in ‘The Illustrated London News.’
The caption read, “The New Guildhall, Plymouth, opened by the Prince of Wales on Thursday.”
The ‘Old Guidhall,’ which had been erected in 1606, during the early years of the reign of James I, was demolished in 1800.
The ‘South Devon Monthly Museum’ published 1 April 1833, described the replacement building as:
“Inadequate for the purpose of a Mayoralty House, incapable of affording the accommodation required for the market, utterly unfit for all the purposes of a Prison, but moderately adapted to the purposes of a Guildhall and totally inefficient as a place for a Hall of Justice.
Plymouth had waited 74 years for the building opened by the Prince of Wales, later King Edward VII, which was constructed by Plymouth based Norman and Hine, who had won the job in a public competition.
The Guildhall contained the city’s municipal offices and a 150ft long Great Hall which contained a Henry Willis organ, the leading organ builder of the Victorian era.
During the World War Two Luftwaffe blitz on Plymouth, the Guildhall was gutted and the Willis organ destroyed.
The Council saved the building from demolition by one vote in 1951.
What remained of the original building was stabilised and formed the basis of the buildings eventual restoration. The newly rebuilt Guildhall reopened in 1959. It is now a Grade II listed building