Shire Hall, Shinfield Park

Coordinates: 51°24′57″N 0°57′16″W / 51.4157°N 0.9545°W / 51.4157; -0.9545
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Shire Hall, Reading
Berkshire Shire Hall.jpg
Shire Hall
Shire Hall is located in Berkshire
Shire Hall
Shire Hall
Location within Berkshire
General information
Architectural styleBrutalist style
AddressShinfield Park, Reading
CountryUnited Kingdom
Coordinates51°24′57″N 0°57′16″W / 51.4157°N 0.9545°W / 51.4157; -0.9545

The Shire Hall is a former municipal building at Shinfield Park just south of Reading, Berkshire. It was the headquarters of Berkshire County Council from 1981 to 1998.


For much of the 20th century the administration of Berkshire County Council had been carried out in the old Shire Hall in The Forbury while meetings of the full council had taken place in the assize courts next door.[1] Following implementation of the Local Government Act 1972, which increased the responsibilities of the county council, county leaders chose to procure a new purpose-built county headquarters: the site they initially selected was at Abbey Wharf off King's Road,[2][3] but after considerable debate, they opted for a site which would be easier to develop on open land on the southern part of the Shinfield Park estate.[4][a]

The new Shire Hall, which was designed in the Brutalist style and built at a cost of £27.5 million,[9] was completed in 1981.[10] The design involved seven low-rise octagonal shaped buildings which all featured continuous bands of glazing with concrete panels above and below; an emergency control centre was established in the basement in case of a nuclear attack.[11] The complex was officially opened by Queen Elizabeth II on 2 April 1982.[12]

However following a review by the Local Government Commission the Government decided to transfer the responsibilities of the County Council to unitary authorities and the building became surplus to requirements in 1998.[13] It became the local offices of Foster Wheeler in March 2000[10] and then, in October 2017, of Wood Group.[14]


  1. ^ The northern part of the estate had been occupied by Shinfield Lodge, which had been the home of Ebenezer Maitland MP in the late 18th century;[5] it served as an RAF Station from 1940 to 1968 and then as the Meteorological Office College from 1971 to 2002.[6] Meanwhile the southern part of the estate had been occupied by Shinfield Grove, which had once been the home of the Hulme family, before being demolished; it is this part of the site which was selected for the Shire Hall.[7][8]


  1. ^ "From old Shire Hall to sheer class". Reading Post. 2 March 2006. Archived from the original on 21 March 2012. Retrieved 19 January 2015.
  2. ^ "Local History in Berkshire" (PDF). Berkshire Local History Association. 2018. p. 7. Retrieved 24 October 2020.
  3. ^ "Conservation Plan – Reading Abbey Revealed" (PDF). Reading Abbey Quarter. p. 17. Retrieved 24 October 2020.
  4. ^ "Ordnance Survey Map". 1979. Retrieved 24 October 2020.
  5. ^ "Maitland (afterwards Fuller Maitland), Ebenezer (1780-1858), of Shinfield Park, Berkshire and Stansted, Essex". History of Parliament. Retrieved 24 October 2020.
  6. ^ "Complaint against council over Shinfield Lodge plans". Reading Post. 8 June 2013. Retrieved 18 August 2019.
  7. ^ "Shinfield". Berkshire History. Retrieved 24 October 2020.
  8. ^ Ditchfield, P. H.; Page, William (1923). "'Parishes: Shinfield', in A History of the County of Berkshire". London: British History Online. pp. 261–267. Retrieved 24 October 2020.
  9. ^ "Ch. 52 specifically sections 2420 and 2488". A History of the first Berkshire County Council 1889-1974.
  10. ^ a b "The Story of the BRO". Berkshire Record Office. Retrieved 18 August 2019.
  11. ^ "Easthampstead Park - Bracknell and East Berkshire (Sub) County Control". Subterranea Britannica. Retrieved 24 October 2020.
  12. ^ "Royal Berkshire Fire Brigade photograph album: opening of Shire Hall". Berkshire Record Office. Retrieved 24 October 2020.
  13. ^ "Local Government Act 1992. 1992 c. 19. part II". Retrieved 18 August 2019.
  14. ^ "Amec Foster Wheeler takeover could mean job losses". Get Reading. 14 March 2017. Retrieved 18 August 2019.