Cape Town City Hall is situated in Darling Street overlooking the Grand Parade in Cape Town City Centre. It is a grand looking building and was the last Victorian style building of some significance to be built in Cape Town. It housed the Municipal offices for many years and today is used by various entities.
In 1990 Nelson Mandela made his first public speech from the City Hall Balcony, to the world, the nation and 250 000 people present at the time. The people had come to rejoice the release from 27 years of imprisonment, of the future president of South Africa.
Friends, comrades and fellow South Africans. I greet you all in the name of peace, democracy and freedom for all. I stand here before you not as a prophet but as a humble servant of you, the people. Your tireless and heroic sacrifices have made it possible for me to be here today. I therefore place the remaining years of my life in your hands.
Offices of the Municipal courts are currently also utilising space in the City Hall building.
City Hall is an Italian Renaissance style building of the Victorian era, designed by the architects Reid and Green from Johannesburg. It is strategically positioned facing the sea. It is a limestone structure with beautiful mosaic floors and a marble staircase. The limestone used in this building was imported from Bath in England. The building boasts magnificent stained glass windows that have been preserved. The City Hall’s 39 bells make it one of the largest carillons in South Africa and was installed as a World War 1 Memorial. In 1925, 22 bells were added to commemorate the visit of the Prince of Wales.
Sir George Martin who was the organist of St Paul's Cathedral in London at the time, was in charge of drawing up the specifications for the organ that includes 3165 pipes. It is made of mahogany, teak and pine. Sir George had this to say about this magnificent masterpiece, “a magnificent instrument in every gradation of tone, from the softest stop to the most powerful tuba being found in the organ, and all under the most perfect control, and that altogether the instrument must be regarded as an artistic and mechanical triumph.”
The tower is a half sized replica of Big Ben in London, England. The Turret Clock strikes the hours and chimes the Westminster quarters. The dials are made of 4 skeleton iron dials filled with opal and have a 24 hour wheel and lever. Originally built with 37 bells an additional 2 were added later, namely C and C sharp
1900 - The corner stone was laid by Thomas Ball the Mayor of the city at the time
1905 – City Hall was opened
1925 – The first time the bells were rung was when the Prince of Wales came to visit the Cape
1954 – 2 additional bells added to the clock
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