At 111 years old, most grand old dames – and certainly the City Hall – could do with a nip here and a tuck there to enhance their aesthetic appeal, all within heritage standards.
The City of Cape Town is therefore undertaking an upgrade of this heritage asset. The current scope of work includes repainting the main entrance hall (which has been completed) and work on the slate roof (which is in progress) at a total cost of just over R20 million.
Additional planned upgrades spanning the next three financial years will include a revamp of the stage and backstage area, the auditorium seating, venue acoustics, the banqueting rooms and the installation of new mechanical ventilation. All of this additional work will cost in the region of R27 million that will be spread across this period.
“City Hall is one of our oldest and most central public spaces with a rich history that resonates with residents across the city and the rest of South Africa. As a key strategic asset of the City, we need to ensure that its upkeep and maintenance is done with the utmost care to preserve the integrity of this heritage building,” said the City’s Mayoral Committee Member for Assets and Facilities Management, Councillor Stuart Diamond. The iconic City Hall building shot to fame locally and globally when it served as the landmark for a turning point in our country’s history. 11 February 2017 marked the 27th anniversary of former president Nelson Mandela’s first speech as a free man when he was released from prison in 1990. He addressed a jubilant crowd that had gathered on the Grand Parade from the balcony of City Hall.
About City Hall – Built in 1905, it was one of the first major constructions on the Grand Parade The bell tower has an astounding 39 bells that chime the Westminster quarter on the hour and on special occasions. In the heart of the building sits the Grand Hall, home to an organ of 3 165 pipes.
The exterior façade is primarily built out of oolitic limestone imported from Bath in England, which gives it an unusual honey-beige. The lower walls and plinths, however, use granite from the quarry on Signal Hill The interior boasts beautiful mosaic floors, marble staircases, and stained-glass windows.
City Hall has played host to a number of international luminaries and served as the venue for Queen Elizabeth’s 21st birthday party in April 1947.
In 2007 the Springboks made an appearance on the balcony after winning the Rugby World Cup.
In 2010 the stately building looked out over the FIFA Fan Fest revellers during the first FIFA World Cup™ on African soil.