Birmingham Council House - A Birmingham Gem!

The Birmingham Council House in Victoria Square is home to Birmingham City Council. The original building was built between 1874 and 1879 and is Grade II* listed.


Where is the Council House?

The Council House in Victoria Square, Birmingham, B1 1BB.

Birmingham, the City Council House in Victoria Square - 13th January 2024 Photography by Daniel Sturley 

In brief

The Council House is a magnificent building of significant historic and cultural importance to the City. It was designed by architect Yeoville Thomason, was built in the classical style and officially opened in 1879. 

The Council House and Museum & Art Gallery was closed for renovation works in 2021, then reopened in 2022 for the Commonwealth Games. Then closed again in 2023 until 2024.

Birmingham City Council declared themselves bankrupt in September 2023.

Be Bold Be BirminghamBe Bold Be Birmingham, hoardings for the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games outside the Council House in Victoria Square, 29th September 2021. Photography by Elliott Brown



The Council House in Victoria Square, 5th April 2021. Photography by Daniel Sturley 


The Council HouseBirmingham Council House (December 2020). Photography by Elliott Brown


Stone to commemorate the opening of the Council House. Photography by Brigid Jones.

Chandelier in dome over Council House main staircase. Photography courtesy Brigid Jones.

Looking down towards the main entrance of the Council House. Photography by Brigid Jones. 

As well as the magnificent exterior of the building, the Council House contains some wonderful gems such as its impressive Chamber, a stunningly ornate banqueting suite, an incredible glass corridor, a lift designed for a King and so much more of historic interest and importance.


The Council Chambers

The semi-circular Council Chamber hosts the monthly council meetings, although the space is regularly used for meetings, discussions and consultations.

In 1911, the ornate Chamber was expanded and it increased its capacity from 80 spaces to 117. Formal curved benches were introduced and these are all directed towards the Lord Mayor’s central rostrum, behind which carved oak and walnut panelling depicts ‘Truth’ and ‘Justice’.

At the rear of the room is the public gallery.

Council House Chambers. Photography by Brigid Jones.  

Council House Chambers looking towards Lord Mayor's seat. Photography by Brigid Jones.  

Pictured below is the city crest, which has evolved over time. The motto is Forward. This is the earliest version of the crest and is carved on the end of each row of seats in the Chamber.

Carvings on the end of each row of seats in the Chamber. Photography by Brigid Jones.

Surrounding the Council's Chamber are columns topped with the national flowers of one of the four nations of the UK.

Columns with national flowers of the four nations surround the Council Chamber. Photography by Brigid Jones.


Banqueting suite in the Birmingham Council House 

The Council House is full of elaborate reception rooms, none as spectacular as the ornamented banqueting suite.

Council House

Banqueting Suite at the Council House. Photography by Elliott Brown


Glass Corridor at the Council House

One of the Council House's little known gems is the glass corridor which used to provide a direct link to the art gallery.

The glass roof is supported by ornate wrought ironwork, complete with floral detail.

Glass Corridor at the Council House. Photography by Elliott Brown. 


This is the view to the Glass Corridor (on the right) from a window at the Industrial Gallery at Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery. The inner courtyard at the Council House.

Council HouseGlass Corridor at the Council House. Photography by Elliott Brown. 


The King's Lift at the Council House

Inside the main entrance off Victoria Square can be found the King's Lift which was built for Edward VII's visit in 1909 as he had trouble walking. However, on the day of his visit, it is understood the king decided to use the stairs. 

King's Lift at the Council House. Photography by Brigid Jones.


Statues and memorials in the Council House 

There are many memorials and statues housed in the Council House.  Here is a small selection.

Two statues are prominently positioned on the main staircase. One is a rare statue of the young Queen Victoria as she was on her wedding day to Prince Albert aged 21. On the opposite side of the staircase is Prince Albert himself. 

Statue of Queen Victoria at Council House. Photography by Brigid Jones.

Statue of Prince Albert at the Council House. Photography by Brigid Jones.

There are many memorials to be found around the building that are dedicated to people from different council departments who have served their country.

"Who fell in the Great War 1914-1919" memorial. Photography by Brigid Jones. 

War memorial in memory of those from the City's Treasury department. Photography by Elliott Brown.


History of the Council House

The land on which the Council House now stands was purchased by the Council in 1853.  

A design competition was held prior to the build and a classical entry by Yeoville Thomason won. Construction began in June 1874, and was completed by October 1879. The Council House was extended between 1911 and 1919 with architects Ashley & Newman selected this time. 

The clocktower at the corner is nicknamed "Big Brum".

The council has had many mayors, one of which was Joseph Chamberlain.

Joseph ChamberlainPortrait of Joseph Chamberlain at the Council House (January 2020). Photography by Elliott Brown


Some of the upper floors of the building are now occupied by Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery, which first opened in 1885.

The square in front of The Council House was originally known as Council House Square. It was renamed to Victoria Square in 1901 (on the unveiling of the Statue of Queen Victoria). 

The building became a Grade II* listed building from April 1952 onwards, being listed as Council House, City Museum and Art Gallery and Council House extension. The listing was amended in 1982 and in 2018 as part of the centenary commemorations of the 1918 Representation of the People Act.

Birmingham City Council was declared bankrupt on 5th September 2023.


Contacts and further details

View Birmingham Council House on our Birmingham map HERE. 

B1 1BB


Project dates

08 Jun 2019 - On-going


History & heritage, Civic pride, Art; Culture & creativity
Photography, Travel & tourism, Squares and public spaces, Classic Architecture


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Jonathan Bostock

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