The Twentieth Century Society

Listings reports

Winter 2013/14

In 2013 a total of 125 post-1914 buildings were designated on English Heritage’s recommendation, many of these instigated by the Society. Houses, pubs, churches, schools, military structures, commercial buildings, sports facilities and telephone boxes – and even a model village – all made it on to the list. Here are just a few:

Eight K6 telephone boxes (Giles Gilbert Scott,1935), eight bespoke Richardson Candle wall-mounted street lamps (Sir Albert Richardson,1957), and a selection of signal boxes (including one built at Runcorn in 1940 to Air Raid Precautions specification to minimise damage from aerial bombing).

Three schools, including the former Alexandra Priory School and Alexandra Resource Centre, part of Neave Brown’s innovative 1970s Alexandra Road Estate in Camden (already Grade II*), singled out as a school of ‘ingenious design and meticulous execution’ on a confined site; and the neo-Georgian Bierton School in Birmingham (Harvey and Wicks, 1928).

A model village of the centre of Bourton–on–Water, built 1936-40. One of the earliest miniature villages in England, it is notable for the high quality of the structures, such as the traceried church windows, miniature dry stone walls and Cotswold stone slates.

An assortment of eating and entertainment establishments, including the 1929 L Manze eel, pie and mash Shop in Walthamstow, and a trio of inter-war ‘improved’ public houses designed to attract ‘respectable’ middle class customers.

Various 1930s sports-related structures and buildings, including a former squash court at Latymer Prep School in Hammersmith; the Summers Lane Grandstand in Barnet, the first example in Britain of a grandstand with a reinforced concrete cantilevered roof; and concrete diving platforms at Purley Way Lido in Croydon and Coate Water in Swindon, two of just four such inter-war concrete structures known to survive in England.

Two important works by Norman Foster and Partners, each encapsulating key features of the British high-tech movement: the former IBM distribution centre in Ealing (1977-80) and the former Renault Distribution Centre in Swindon (1981-82).

Five Roman Catholic churches: Sacred Heart and St Catherine of Alexandria, Droitwich (1919-21), a good example of the early Christian style, listed at Grade II* for its ‘remarkable, comprehensive and striking set of mosaic decorations of high quality’ by G Pippet; St Edward’s RC Church by Stienlet & Maxwell of Newcastle (1926-28), a striking Romanesque design; St Jude, Wigan (1964/65) with its powerful fan-shaped design using a radiating framework of exposed concrete beams infilled with brick; Marychurch in Hatfield by George Mathers (1970), notable for its beautiful dalle de verre glass; and St Joseph, Wool, Dorset (1969-71), for its innovative space-frame roof which provides a large, open nave and sanctuary.

A clutch of 1960s London houses, including 22 Murray Mews in Camden, recognised for its ‘ingenious use of a tiny site’ (just 18m by 7m); and 22 Parkside in Wimbledon, a high-tech, steel-framed house (Richard and Su Rogers, 1968-70), listed Grade II*. Upper Exbury (James Dunbar-Nasmith,1964/65 for Leopold de Rothschild) was recognised as ‘a classic arrangement and setting of a country house, recast in a modern, post-war idiom’, while Capel Manor House in Kent (Michael Manser, 1969/70) was listed Grade II* as a rare example of a modern steel-framed house.

Over twenty military structures relating to WW II and the Cold War period, including a Grade II* concrete bomb chamber in Sevenoaks, designed for the secret development of Britain’s atomic bomb; an unusual three-level underground bunker at RAF Daws Hill, Bucks, which served as the nerve-centre of the US European bombing campaign in WWII (also Grade II*); and a cavitation tunnel (filled with water for testing propellers and ship hulls) in Gosport, Hampshire, made by a German scientist and brought back to England by the Admiralty after the war.

Coinciding with the WWI centenary, nearly forty war memorials, memorial parks and halls, mausoleums and gravestones were listed, most from the early 1920s. The Art Deco memorial in Coventry War Memorial Park was listed at Grade II*. A poignant example is the grave of Captain William Leefe Robinson, VC, in Harrow. He was the first Royal Flying Corps pilot to shoot down a German Zeppelin over England; he later died in the 1918 flu epidemic.

Henrietta Billings and Ellen Gates

Shown below are the listing reports for Winter 2013/14

Added

Anglican Church of St Aldate, Finlay Road, Gloucester; Robert Potter and Richard Hare, designed 1959-61, built 1962-64: upgraded to Grade II*

This stunning post-war church was upgraded at our instigation. The remarkable, thrusting hyperbolic paraboloid (‘hypar’) roof interplays with a rare fan-shaped auditorium to create an unbroken, soaring internal space. The altar is brought forward into the body of the church, eliminating the distinction between nave and sanctuary, making this among the very earliest examples of the Anglican church responding to the mature Liturgical Movement.

India Buildings, Water Street, Liverpool; Herbert Rowse, 1924-32: upgraded to Grade II*

In upgrading this virtually unaltered commercial building, English Heritage recognised that ‘Through its monumental scale, planning, architectural treatment and mixed use, India Buildings emulates the most impressive early C20 commercial buildings of the US.’ The exterior is characterised by mass, clean surfaces and proportions, rather than ornamentation, while the interior incorporates high-quality finishes and materials throughout, including an extensive use of travertine marble and terrazzo.

Herman Miller Factory, Locksbrook Road, Bath; Nicholas Grimshaw of Farrell & Grimshaw Architects, 1976-77: Grade II

EH recognised that this important early work by one of Britain’s foremost contemporary architects expressed many of the key features of the British high-tech movement: ‘a top-serviced, shed-like external envelope offering full flexibility with an open interior’, creating ‘a striking factory building that combined the low cost and flexibility of a standardised shed with rigorous architectural thinking and visual quality’.

Juniper Hill, Lapworth Street, Lapworth, Warwickshire; John Madin, 1960: Grade II

We sought spot-listing for one of the best remaining examples of a commissioned private house by Birmingham architect John Madin; it is the first Madin building to be listed. EH recognised its flow of space, high quality materials and survival of much of the original internal plan and fixtures.

Wallsend Library, North Tyneside; Harry Faulkner-Brown of Williamson, Faulkner-Brown and Partners, 1965-66: Grade II

Designed in accordance with Faulkner-Brown’s influential ‘ten commandments’ of library planning, Wallsend Library was at the vanguard of a new post-war approach to library building. It pioneered a new modular approach with built-in flexibility to accommodate future changes in arrangement of book stacks and seated areas and the introduction of new types of reader services.

3 Abertay Gardens, Dundee; James Reginald Parr and Partners, 1967: Category B

This largely unaltered, late-modernist house of the post-war period is characterised by imaginative and precise modular planning and the inventive use of space and light. The house is of good quality, well detailed and cleverly designed to fit its steeply falling site. It complements the progressive modernist architecture of parts of Dundee University.

Colinton Mains Parish Church (including boundary walls, gate piers and railings), 223 Oxgangs Road North, Edinburgh; Ian G Lindsay and Partners, 1952-54: Category B

This is a rare and unusual example of a post-war church building influenced by rural vernacular architecture. Historic Scotland described it as ‘a modern interpretation of traditional motifs with simple pared-down geometric forms and a skilful blend of modern and traditional building materials… The bright white render contrasting with the slate roof and dominant square tower makes the building a significant landmark in the post-war housing estate.’

St Nicholas Parish Church, 122 Sighthill Loan, Calder Road, Wester Hailes Road, Edinburgh; Ross, Doak and Whitelaw, 1955-57: Category B

Historic Scotland recognised this as a rare example of a ‘Festival of Britain style’ church building, characterised by its varied used of materials and unusual detailing, including abstract glazing, chancel brickwork detail, slate cladding and distinctive tiling to the entrance vestibule. The open-plan design demonstrates the move to a less hierarchical form of worship during this period.

Turned Down

French Railways House, Piccadilly, London, SW1; Shaw and Lloyd, 1960-63

EH recognised that French Railways House is a solid example of post-war commercial in-fill development, responding thoughtfully to its prominent site in a classical reinterpretation in a modernist idiom, but found that it did not have a level of architectural interest to warrant designation.

69-89 Oxford Street, London W1; Gordon Jeeves and Herbert A Welch, 1929-30, extended 1952

EH recognised architectural merit in the elevation, with its Paris-inspired Art Deco detail and polished dark grey granite cladding, expressed as a series of tall plain ‘pilasters’ rising to an attic clad in heavily textured pink terracotta. However, they concluded that its quality did not match that of comparable listed examples.

Mural on Provost’s Pool, Rainbow Slides Leisure Centre, Stirling, Scotland; Charles Anderson, 1973

Historic Scotland declined to investigate listing this mural because development proposals for the site are considerably advanced, but it recommended that Stirling Council should consider the mural’s retention in the redevelopment, and that the Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Scotland should consider recording it.

89 Barton Road, Cambridge; Peter Lord, 1974

EH declined to list this courtyard house due to the degree of internal alteration, including the removal of original features and the reconfiguration of internal partitions.

Norfolk County Hall, Martineau Lane, Norwich; Reginald Uren of Slater and Uren, 1966

EH concluded that, though an imposing building, Norfolk County Hall does not meet the standard for listing of post-war municipal buildings. They said that, though it successfully combined the administrative and political functions of local government, it was essentially a functional building without special architectural interest or innovative design features.

Former Salford Police Headquarters, The Crescent, Salford, Greater Manchester; Bradshaw, Gass & Hope, 1955-57

This building brought the Salford City Police force together on a single consolidated site, with recreational, educational and training facilities as well as offices and cells, and the most modern information room outside Scotland Yard at the time. We put it forward for spot listing, arguing that, despite the historicism of its neo-Georgian design, the use of modern structural techniques and robust concrete and steel-framed construction merited listing.

Homebase store, Warwick Road, London W14; Ian Pollard, 1986-88

This purpose-built store is in the Egyptian style with a frieze by the eminent stone mason Richard Kindersley featuring Egyptian gods. We think it captures the essence of 1980s post-modernism, a period that is under-valued and vulnerable to complete erasure from the British architectural scene. But EH felt it lacked the overall creativity, sophistication of composition and completeness of architectural vision necessary to merit listing. They did note that it might warrant listing at Grade II if it had been over 30 years old, but unlisted it regrettably faces the threat of demolition.

Cressingham Gardens, Lambeth, London; Lambeth Borough Architects Department, led by Edward Hollamby, 1967-1979

We supported the application to list this important post-war low-rise housing estate in recognition of the impressive quality of the accommodation and layout, the striking landscape setting of the whole estate, and the thoughtful integration into the setting of nearby Brockwell Park. But EH concluded that overall the development lacked the structural cohesion, strong architectural expression as an ensemble, and quality of detail of the best public housing schemes of the period. It did recommend, however, that Cressingham Gardens be considered for inclusion in the adjacent Brockwell Park Conservation Area.

17a-79b Mansfield Road & 1-9 Lamble Street, London; Gordon Benson and Alan Forsyth for the London Borough of Camden, 1973-80

Another application supported by C20, listing of these two 1970s public housing blocks was turned down by EH on the grounds that, while they shared the distinctive vocabulary of other Camden estates of the period, they lacked the sense of scale and quality of detail that marked out the best examples.

Put Forward

The Annexe to Lancaster Girls Grammar School, Lancaster; Richard Sheppard and Geoffrey Robson, 1949-50

This was one of the earliest schools using the pre-fabricated system designed by Richard Sheppard and Geoffrey Robson for the Bristol Aeroplane Company, and possibly the only surviving example of its type. The system consisted of a corridor and classroom configuration with characteristic fins, which can be seen in this example. Although many were produced and shipped all over the world, many have been demolished or altered beyond recognition.

Clapperhill House, Clapper Hill, Pamber End, Tadley, Hampshire; Boulton & Paul, 1926

This extremely rare example of an inter-war prefabricated house was designed and built by the Norwich-based engineering firm Boulton & Paul and featured in their 1926 catalogue. Of unpainted rough-cast on a timber frame with decorative half-timbering and leaded iron window casements, the building exhibits an attractive yet subtle vernacular with influences from both the Arts & Crafts movement and the timber-framed ‘Tudor’ style. The standardised nature of the design, combined with the high quality of the build, make it an undoubtedly rare example of domestic architecture.

Supported

Church of St Oswald, Tile Hill; Church of St John the Divine, Willenhall; Church of St Chad, Wood End, Coventry; all Sir Basil Spence

We believe these three Coventry churches by Sir Basil Spence should be considered together for designation, given the strong historical and artistic links between them. Each was commissioned in 1954 and opened in 1957, incorporating the same basic plan, design and materials with subtle variations to the form or layout. They reflect Spence’s wish to provide Coventry with churches in a distinctive ‘house style’ using elements of the Coventry Cathedral design.

 

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