Central Hall is one of Britain’s “ugliest buildings”


The university’s Central Hall is one of Britain’s ‘ugliest buildings’, according to a list in the Independent on Sunday.

Professor John Rentoul, the paper’s chief political commentator, compiled a list of “horrible buildings”, and named one of the university’s most iconic as seventh in the top ten.

“Nominated by Peter Noble, who adds that, “The whole original campus is pretty bad,”” he wrote.

According to the list, which featured in Independent on Sunday’s magazine two weeks ago, Preston Bus Station is Britain’s most “horrible building”, followed by Buckingham Palace in second and the South Bank Centre in London in third.

The National Library of Kosovo in Pristina came fourth, with the Lock Keeper’s Cottage at Queen Mary, in fifth.

Cambridge’s Seeley Historical Library came sixth, followed by Kensington Town Hall in eighth and the old Home Office building, which is now the Ministry of Justice, in ninth.

Completing the top ten was the ‘new’ Home Office building.

“These are mostly British, and indeed many of them are in London, because I stick with what I know and I’ve a few long-standing grudges to settle,” Rentoul wrote.

“Some of these were nominated for last week’s Top 10 Great Buildings, but this is where they really belong.”

Since compiling the list, the writer has now said he will submit them – including Central Hall, located on the Heslington West campus – to the Dead Prize competition, which, according to the makers, is “an annual award that highlights inventors, designers and companies that have caused detrimental impact to the planet”.

But is it really that bad?

David Duncan, the university registrar, told Vision: “Views on whether buildings are ugly or beautiful are subjective; some people enthuse about Central Hall, while others are less taken with it.

“However, most commentators would agree that it is both iconic and fit for purpose.  While students in other universities graduate in draughty city halls or buildings which offer their guests a poor view of proceedings, the steeply raked Central Hall provides an intimate space in which everyone has a clear view of the ceremonies.  It also provides an excellent forum for major national events, such as the Church of England Synod, which takes place there every year (the historic decision to permit women to become bishops was made there only a few weeks ago).

“Other 1960s buildings on the campus will be progressively replaced over the next ten-fifteen years, but the University is committed to retaining Central Hall.  The exterior has already been upgraded and further works are planned to improve the interior.  These will allow it to be used as a large lecture theatre and will also enhance access for disabled people and make it more attractive for major conferences.”

Take our online poll and post your view below.

[poll id=”50″]

8 thoughts on “Central Hall is one of Britain’s “ugliest buildings”

  1. Okay, so here’s question… Why is the student body not pushing for graduation at the catheral? York St John’s go there… And let’s face it we are THE York Uni …

  2. As there are private, specialist and faith schools why not insist that only ugly students can enlist at York university’s Central Hall, Heslington West campus? Lol

  3. This insult is an outrage. YourShop should stop stocking the Independent until the editors of the newspaper release an official statement of apology and organise a grand ceremony in the Brutalise masterpiece that is our mighty Central Hall to demonstrate the sincerity of their apology.

  4. At least those from St John can identify that it is a minster rather than a cathedral. Also that our spelling is somewhat, precise.

  5. Insulting people who go to St. John’s could be friendly, playful and add too a healthy competitive rivalry between two uni’s in the same city.

    Most of the time, however, it degenerates into students at York Uni (fully grown educated adults) hurling abuse at people at YSJ because they apparently can’t spell and because their university has lower entry requirements than ours (and is mostly populated by people local to Yorkshire, rather unlike Uni of York). Does it not smell of rampant classism to anybody else?

  6. York Minster IS a cathedral FYI. But why would the uni want graduation at the Minster? It would be a logistical nightmare for everyone.

  7. S, check your facts before trying to denigrate others. ‘Minster’ is merely an honorific within the Church of England denoting a church of special recognition, not a kind of church. A cathedral is any church that is home to the throne of a Bishop (the word ‘cathedral’ being derived from the Greek ‘kathedra’ or Latin ‘cathedra’, for seat); thus the York Minster is simultaneously a Minster and a Cathedral by virtue of holding the Archbishop of York’s throne. Whilst it would be improper to refer to it as “York Cathedral”, to say “the cathedral” is just as legitimate as saying “the Minster”.

    ReeRee, York St. John graduates from the York Minster because it was originally a college operated by the Church of England – John Sentamu, the Archbishop of York, is its Chancellor in recognition of the university’s historic ties to the Church. In contrast, the University of York is an historically secular institution, and in the eyes of the University it would be inappropriate to host graduation ceremonies on religious grounds. The Minster is also very much a busy place, one that is unlikely to be able to accommodate all of the university’s students in a short period of time.

  8. Not to mention york isn’t, like it or not, about pretence or tradition. Especially when compared to other universities. Central hall is our building and I want to graduate somewhere where I feel at ease and home, rather than somewhere fancy and not ours.

Comments are closed.