Artist's Impression of Newport Civic Centre 1937

Photo reference number: 23

(Image and text from Newport Encyclopaedia 1937)

The Corporation promoted a competition for designs to be submitted of the Civic Centre, and Messrs. Berry Webber, F.R.I.B.A., and C. F. Ward, F.R.I.B.A., the joint assessors, selected the design of Mr. T. Cecil Howitt, F.R.I.B.A.
The scheme takes full advantage of the site and indicates the buildings on the higher portion thus ensuring that the Civic Buildings surrounded by monumental gardens will dominate the Town.
The buildings are so arranged that approach from any direction makes it evident the buildings comprise the Civic Centre. Advantage has been taken of the levels of the site so as to give easy access to all Departments for vehicular and pedestrian traffic.
The provision of a cross road between the Assembly Hall and the Civic Suite greatly improves the existing traffic roads on the west side of the site. At this, the Fields Road side of the site, it will be noted the Author has carefully considered gradients and has suggested roundabouts so as to control the traffic in the correct directions.
The buildings are arranged with the Law Courts on the south-west side, Municipal Office block on the north-east side; the main Civic Suite is arranged axially between the Law Courts and Municipal Office block and is directly connected for Civic functions with the Assembly Hall on the West or Fields Road side.
The main approach is planned axially on the front of the Civic Suite with a ceremonial stairway from circular access road. The contours of the ground are thus taken advantage of to form terraces, some of the existing trees being retained.
Arranged axially on the ceremonial entrance at the opposite side of a spacious hall is a further main entrance for Members and the Public arriving by car.
In detail, the planning of the various blocks of buildings is well arranged so as to use the contours of the site in the best economical manner, with subsidiary entrances giving direct access to the various Departments from the approach roads.
The Civic Suite is planned axially on the first floor with the Council Chamber in the centre, Committee Rooms adjoining, and the Reception Room with Refreshment Room opening off the ceremonial staircase hall. The Mayor's Suite is arranged on the south-west side of the Council Chamber. The Reception Room with Refreshment Room forms a link between the Civic Suite and the Assembly Hall on the same floor.
Adjoining the Council Suite the Town Clerk's Department is planned in close proximity to the Committee Rooms. The Public Assistance Department is indicated on the ground floor of this block with conveniently planned entrance giving direct public access to the Relief Committees and the Public Dispensary.
The Health Department is to the south-west of the main entrance on the ground floor.
On the second floor of the central block is the Borough Architect's Department. The Borough Engineer's Department is arranged on the first floor of the north-east wing.
The Borough Treasurer's Department is on the ground floor with separate entrance and ample space for the public.
The Electricity and Transport Department is well planned on the lower ground floor with separate entrance direct from Godfrey Road, the Water Department being placed on the same floor, which is the first floor at the eastern end of the block.
The Education Department is arranged on the lowest floor, with separate entrance.
The Main Entrances to the Assize Courts and Police Station are from Clytha Park Road and from a new cross road. An Assize Hall of ample proportions provides access to the two Assize Courts and a separate corridor with rooms for Judge and Jury.
The Police Court, Children's Court, and Magistrates' Clerk's Office are planned with direct access from a separate entrance, at the same time being accessible to the Police Station. An additional entrance to the Police Station is arranged so as to provide direct communication between Van Yard and Charge Office. The main Police Offices are placed on the first floor level with direct communication to the Civic Suite.
The general planning of all the offices, including the Police, indicates provision for supervision with easy access between the various Departments and suitably connected to the Council Suite.
The main approach to the Assembly Hall is in Fields Road through a large vestibule having
five openings through which a large entrance hall is approached with cloakrooms arranged
each end. Access to the Assembly Hall is through three entrance doorways, which are axially placed on the opposite side into the Refreshment Room. The Hall provides accommodation for 1,500 seats and a platform for a choir of 200 and 100 orchestra, together with space for organ.
Retiring and Green Rooms are conveniently placed at the back of the stage with separate entrances. The Corporation anticipate the erection of the buildings will commence in January, 1938.

Half built Civic Centre during WW2