The Civic Hall was designed by young architects Lawrence Israel and Edward Douglas Lyons in what was their very first job.
The building was chosen from a host of proposals in a competition run by the council in 1934.
It was developed in the modernistic or new classical style, a school of design which drew inspiration from Greek and Roman architecture.
The Civic Hall's pillars, order and symmetry owe much to that ancient architecture as well as to modern interpretations of the style.
There have been many comparisons of the Civic Hall to the design of Stockholm Concert Hall, a building designed by the Swedish architect Ivar Tengbom and opened in 1926.
Tengborn was a close contemporary of fellow Swedish architect Gunnar Asplund and it is the work of these architects that Israel and Lyons particularly admired.
The 30s was a transitional period and architects were influenced by the Scandanavians and Dutch
In a letter written in 1979, many years after the Civic Hall was designed, Edward Lyons says that their inspiration, like that of many architects of the time, came from the continent.
“The 30s was a transitional period and architects were influenced by the Scandanavians and Dutch,” he writes.
“The buildings which had a considerable impact were Dudok's Hilversun Town Hall in Holland and in Stockholm Gunner Asplund's Crematorium, Ragner Ostberg's Town Hall and Ivar Tengbom's Concert Hall.”
Designing for a music venue required the architects to consider space for an organ, in this case one specially created by the renowned John Compton Organ Company.
The instrument was made up of more than 5,500 pipes and was used regularly for decades after the hall opened offering a variety of classical and theatre concerts.
While the outside of the Civic Hall with its imposing pillars drew on the new classical style, in other parts of the building there was a mixture of different styles including modernism and Arts & Crafts.
The crucial job of turning the architect's vision into reality went to local firm Henry Willcock & Co Limited.
Letters from the city's archives show that this was not a simple affair with shortages in materials impacting on the planned timescale.
One letter from the firm in November 1936 acknowledges that: “the work is very much behind the time schedule we had arranged.”
difficulties in obtaining steelwork
The rest of the correspondence sheds light on why this had happened: “This has been caused by the difficulties in obtaining steelwork owing to the Government's demand for this material during the last few months.”
Steel was in demand due to the nationwide construction work happening as the UK was moving out of The Great Depression. Homebuilding during 1936 was at a particular high with 365,000 houses being built across the country.
A further issue was the actual manpower needed to build the halls, as the firm's letter goes on to state: “We are also faced with a dearth of good bricklayers owing to National Emergency work and to the men being able to obtain bonus of twopence or threepence an hour on other buildings in the district.”
The emergency work included the Government's programme of re-armament which took place between to the two world wars.
But despite the steel setbacks, the shortage of manpower and the rising costs of materials, the buildings were completed by 1938, true to the architects' original vision.