Lerwick Town Hall

Lerwick Town Hall is a municipal building located in central Lerwick, Shetland, Scotland. The town hall, which is the headquarters of Shetland Islands Council, is a Category A listed building.[1]

Lerwick Town Hall
Lerwick Town Hall
Coordinates60°9′16″N 1°8′46″W / 60.15444°N 1.14611°W / 60.15444; -1.14611Coordinates: 60°9′16″N 1°8′46″W / 60.15444°N 1.14611°W / 60.15444; -1.14611
ArchitectAlexander Ross
Architectural style(s)Scottish Baronial style
Listed Building – Category A
Designated8 November 1974
Reference no.LB37256
Lerwick Town Hall is located in Shetland
Lerwick Town Hall
Shown in Shetland


Stained Glass Windows inside Lerwick Town Hall

For much of the 19th century meetings of the local council were held in the Parish Kirk in Queens Lane.[2] After a period of rapid population expansion in Lerwick associated with the growth in the herring industry, civic leaders decided to procure a purpose-built town hall: a site on the north Hillhead was selected.[2]

The foundation stone for the new building was laid by Prince Alfred, Duke of Edinburgh on a visit to the isles on 24 January 1882.[2] That same evening Lerwick saw the first ever Up Helly Aa torchlight procession.[2] The new building was designed by architect, Alexander Ross from Inverness,[3] in the Scottish Baronial style and builder John M. Aitken of Lerwick won the tender competition with a price of £3,240.[2] The building was officially opened by George Thoms, Sheriff of Caithness, Orkney and Shetland, on 30 July 1883.[2] The design involved a symmetrical frontage with five bays facing on Hillhead; the central section featured an arched doorway on the ground floor; there was an oriel window on the first floor with a pediment bearing a coat of arms above and there were bartizans at the corners of the building.[1] There was a battlemented tower on the east side and a rose window on the north side.[1] Internally, the principal rooms were a council chamber and a courtroom; there were also police cells in the building.[2]

Stained glass windows, designed by James Ballantine & Son, were subsequently installed in the building: these included a depiction of the marriage between Margaret of Denmark and James III of Scotland in 1469.[4] There were also windows presented by the Corporation of Amsterdam and the Corporation of Hamburg.[5] Panels with the coats of arms of Aberdeen, Edinburgh, Glasgow and Leith, which had been presented by the respective corporations, were installed in a corridor.[6] A clock, designed and manufactured by Potts of Leeds, was installed in the tower in 1887.[7]

The town hall was the headquarters of Lerwick Town Council until 1975 and was the home of the Shetland Islands Council until 2022.[8][9] The front steps, which had badly decayed, were replaced in spring 2008[2] and the local registrar's office moved from the County Buildings to Lerwick Town Hall in February 2015.[10] The Duke of Rothesay visited the town hall and reviewed the conservation work being undertaken in July 2021.[11]

Works of art in the town hall include a portrait of Queen Elizabeth II by Leonard Boden[12] and a portrait of Charles Rampini, Sheriff of Dumfries and Galloway,[13] by John Henry Lorimer.[14]


The town hall is used for functions such as marriages, wedding receptions, concerts, coffee mornings and evening events.[15]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ a b c Historic Environment Scotland. "Lerwick Town hall, Hillhead and Charlotte Street, Including Lamp Standards, Gatepiers, Boundary Walls and Railings, Lerwick (Category A Listed Building) (LB37256)". Retrieved 14 April 2020.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h "It cost £4,940 15/6d to build, now monument to civic splendour is 125 years old". The Shetland Times. Retrieved 14 April 2020.
  3. ^ Gifford, John (2003). Highland and Islands (Buildings of Scotland Series). Yale University Press. p. 66. ISBN 978-0300096255.
  4. ^ "Lerwick's Fine Victorian Town Hall Is Reborn". Shetland Islands Council. 10 August 2018. Retrieved 14 April 2020.
  5. ^ "Hamburg Window". Shetland Islands Council. Retrieved 14 April 2020.
  6. ^ "Lerwick". Vision of Britain. Retrieved 14 April 2020.
  7. ^ Potts, Michael (2006). Potts of Leeds – Five Generations of Clockmakers. Mayfield Books. p. 395. ISBN 0-9523270-8-2.
  8. ^ "Shetland: a model for the future". The Shetland Times. 5 April 2013. Retrieved 14 April 2020.
  9. ^ Taylor, Ryan (11 May 2022). "First look inside new council chamber". The Shetland Times. Retrieved 16 May 2022.
  10. ^ "County Buildings". Shetland Times. 6 February 2015. Retrieved 30 November 2021.
  11. ^ "Royal Visit to Lerwick Town Hall". Shetland Islands Council. 30 July 2021. Retrieved 26 September 2021.
  12. ^ Boden, Leonard. "HM Queen Elizabeth II (b.1926)". Art UK. Retrieved 14 April 2020.
  13. ^ "No. 27196". The London Gazette. 25 May 1900. p. 3333.
  14. ^ Lorimer, John Henry. "Charles Rampini (1840–1907)". Art UK. Retrieved 14 April 2020.
  15. ^ "Welcome to Shetland Islands Council". shetland.gov.uk. Archived from the original on 13 August 2006. Retrieved 20 January 2014.