Inverness Town House

Town House, Inverness
©2021 Gazetteer for Scotland

Town House, Inverness

Built in the Flemish-Baronial style on the corner of Castle Street and High Street in Inverness city centre, the Town House was constructed 1878-82 to the design of local architect William Lawrie as a larger version of Sir George Gilbert Scott's Albert Institute in Dundee. The building comprises two storeys and features slender towers and turrets (tourelles) corbelled out at the corners and above the entrance, together with two plaques showing the Burgh Arms that date from 1686 and were reclaimed from the old Ness Bridge (demolished after it was irreparably damaged in a flood in 1849). This building replaced the Old Town House, which was built in 1708 as the Inverness home of Lord Lovat, became the Burgh Town House in 1716 and was demolished in 1878.

The interior is grand, with an imposing staircase rising from the entrance to access the principal rooms: the sizeable Town Hall, the Council Chamber and a committee room. The wood-panelled Council Chamber features fine stained-glass windows and grand chandeliers. This was used for a historic meeting of the British Cabinet, the first and only occasion it had met outside London until the practice was re-introduced in 2008. In September 1921, Prime Minister David Lloyd George, was on holiday at Gairloch when he was told that Southern Ireland wished to secede from the United Kingdom. Because his deputy was at Beaufort Castle and King George V was visiting Moy Hall, Lloyd George decided to convene a meeting of the Cabinet in Inverness, rather than return to London. The Inverness Formula, which formed the basis for the foundation of the Irish Free State, arose from this meeting.

The Town House served as the base for Inverness Town Council until it was supplanted by the buildings on Glenurquhart Road in the 1960s. It remains in use for meetings, civic functions, concerts and civil marriages.

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