Stoke Newington’s town hall is a prime example of 20th-century Art Deco design. Completed in 1937, the columns and pure white stone of the town hall made a sophisticated, yet striking, image.
Within two years, however, this striking image proved an impending issue. War had begun, and it was feared the pearly building would become a target, easily spotted by bombers. While other buildings across the capital were sheltered by the darkness of enforced blackouts, it was decided that more dramatic, and creative, measures must be taken with Stoke Newington’s town hall.
Using an arrangement of swirling curves of green, brown, and yellow across its outer walls, the entire hall was daubed in camouflage. Though this artistic attempt to hide an entire town hall may sound like something from an episode of Loony Tunes, it did in fact work. Veiled from aircraft above, amongst its dark and leafy surroundings, Stoke Newington Town Hall was able to serve as the Civil Defense Base for the area and survived the war almost intact.
Those who pay close attention when passing the Town Hall today, more than 80 years later can still see these earthy additions upon the areas of the building sheltered from weathering. In a twist of irony, though successful in hiding the building during wartime, the camouflage has now gained the site wider recognition. For its unique historical significance, the hall has been Grade II listed and every effort has been made to protect the remaining coloring.