The Twentieth Century Society

Listings reports

Winter 2014/15

There have been a number of successes under English Heritage’s thematic assessment of post-war commercial buildings, as listed below.

Listed (all at Grade II)
Brown Shipley, Moorgate, Fitzroy Robinson & Partners, 1973-75; 30 Cannon Street (formerly Credit Lyonnais), Whinney, Son & Austen Hall, 1974-77; 1 Finsbury Avenue, Arup Associates Group 2 led by Peter Foggo, 1982-84; Civil Aviation Authority House (formerly Space House), Kingsway, George Marsh of Richard Seifert & Partners, 1964-68 (all in London).

Mountbatten House (formerly Gateway House), Basingstoke, Arup Associates Group 2 led by Peter Foggo, 1974-76 (the roof gardens have also been added to the Register of Parks and Gardens at Grade II); IBM Pilot Head Office, Cosham, Foster Associates, 1970-71; Gun Wharf (built as administrative HQ for Lloyd’s of London, now HQ for Medway Council), Chatham, Kent, Arup Associates, 1976-78; Former office of Ryder and Yates, Killingworth, Newcastle, Ryder and Yates, 1964-65; MEA House, Newcastle upon Tyne, Ryder and Yates, 1972-74; Bank House, King Street, Leeds, Building Design Partnership, 1969-71; Former Midland Bank, Dale Street, Liverpool, Raymond Fletcher of Bradshaw, Rowse & Harker, 1971; St James’s House, Frederick Street, Birmingham, John Madin, 1954-57; Alpha Tower, Birmingham, George Marsh of Richard Seifert & Partners, 1970-72; Former Central Electricity Generating Board Building (The Pavilions), Bristol, Arup Associates, 1975-78.

Not recommended for listing
Tower 42 (NatWest Tower), Richard Seifert & Partners, 1973-81; Bush Lane House, 80 Cannon Street, Arup Associates, 1972-76; 150 Leadenhall Street & 6-8 Bishopsgate, GMW Partnership, 1974-78 & 1977-81 (all in London).

Gateway Two, Belvedere House, Basingstoke, Arup Associates, 1981-82; PA Technology and Science Centre, Melbourn, Hertfordshire, Piano & Rogers, 1974-75, 1982-84; Newspaper House, Oxford, Arup Associates, 1969-71; Neville House, Birmingham, John Madin, 1975-76; NatWest, Colmore Road, Birmingham,
John Madin, 1969.

Ellen Gates

Added

Ketelfield, with attached garden terrace and steps, Higham St Anne, Colchester; Aldington, Craig & Collinge, 1975-78; Grade II
EH said that this steel frame house (also known as Wedgwood House) was an ‘early example of a well-proportioned, precisely elegant and bespoke steel-framed house by highly regarded architects of national repute’. It paid homage to Mies’s Farnsworth House, but also corresponded to a popular 1970s trend for welded steel frame houses as steel became more affordable. Despite its extreme modernity, it is meticulously adapted to suit its setting in the Dedham Vale AONB. It remains virtually intact.

78 South Hill Park, Hampstead, London; Brian Housden, 1963-65; Grade II
Another exceptional post-war house, built by Housden for himself and his family. The unusual design incorporates elements of European modernism, with influences from the Rietveld Schroder House, Aldo van Eyck, and the Maison de Verre in Paris (1928-32). It also incorporates features of 1950s New Brutalism, including an in-situ shuttered concrete frame, glass brick infill, bands of Crittall glazing, and exposed services. Turned down for listing in 2001, it was recently re-assessed as part of EH’s current work on Later C20 Architecture.

St Bede’s Church and Institute for Deaf People, LB Lambeth; Sir Edward Maufe, 1924; Grade II
EH said this was ‘a key early work by this major C20 church architect, showing his refined, Scandinavian-inspired modern Gothic idiom to good effect in its dramatic composition and cool, harmonious interior’. It has a number of features to meet the specific needs of a deaf congregation and a pared-down simplicity and refinement in detailing, as well as a freshness referencing contemporary Swedish architecture.

St. Saviour’s RDD Church, East Acton, LB Ealing; Sir Edward Maufe, 1924-27; Grade II
We supported a third party application to list this Maufe church, sister church to St Bede’s. It too has features particularly designed for deaf congregants, but also shows the first use by Maufe of ideas that became part of his designs for later non-specialist churches (including Guildford Cathedral).

Turned Down

Hove Town Hall, Norton Road, Hove, Sussex; John Wells-Thorpe, 1970-73
EH recognised this as ‘a striking composition of bold, sculptural forms, expressed through a juxtaposition of rough, tough, concrete, and smooth, reflective bronze-tinted glass’, and as a ‘gentler form of brutalism’ with high quality surviving interiors. But it said that the overall quality of design, detail and execution were not sufficient to mark it out as of national special interest.

Former Bradford Central Library, Princes Way, Bradford; W C Brown, City Architect, 1964
EH assessed this as part of its post-war libraries project, describing it as ‘the most ambitious library building of the early 1960s’. The complex consists of a ‘monumental’ ten-storey tower block, a two-storey podium block which forms the entrance hall and two mezzanine levels, plus an adjoining auditorium seating 400. It was pioneering for the large range of facilities under one roof and the innovative stacking system. But EH said that externally the library has a rather austere character, more like a commercial office building, and the surviving interior features are not of a sufficiently high quality to outweigh the changes that have taken place.

Derby Hall, including electricity sub-station in grounds, North Mossley Road, Mossley Hill, Liverpool; Willink & Dod, 1937-39
EH has issued a COI from listing following an application to refurbish this building and redevelop the University’s Greenbank site. Planned around a courtyard with accommodation wings on three sides, it has an intimate collegiate atmosphere. Although its neo-Georgian styling owes something to Lutyens’ early-C20 designs, its ‘overall forms are interpreted through Stripped Classical styling, popular through the 1930s as a dignified form of Art Deco’. EH said it ‘is not distinguished by any more ambitious elements or approaches’ and that the planning of the building while clear and effective was not innovative.

RC Cathedral Church of St Mary and St Helen, Ingrave Road, Brentwood; Gilbert R Blount, 1861/Quinlan Terry, c1990
Blount’s original church is in a Puginian Gothic style. Terry’s substantial modern addition today forms the main worship space. EH described Terry’s addition as ‘an impressive structure, wholly classical in form and style and an amalgam of different Classical inspirations’, of national significance for its place in the modern debate about architectural style. But it said that because the Terry building forms the principal worship space, the building is substantially less than 30 years old and so not eligible for listing at this time, as it is neither of outstanding architectural interest nor under threat.

Put Forward

Needler Hall, University of Hull, Northgate, Cottingham, Hull; Trevor Dannatt, 1964
This fine mid-1960s hall of residence is an early work by an eminent C20 architect and professor of architecture. It has three main elments (dining hall block, service wing and study bedrooms) located around courtyards, with careful and rational planning and ‘human scale’. It is finely detailed and uses high quality materials, with a strikingly geometrical elm-clad staircase and teak framed windows.

Birmingham Chamber Of Commerce & Industry, Harborne Road, Birmingham; John Madin Design Partnership, 1958-61
This early Madin work is a fairly plain and minimalistic scheme on Miesian principles, but with its simple T-shaped plan of two individual blocks and bridge element, it is sensitive and carefully crafted, influenced greatly by pre-war Scandinavian architecture. The elegantly proportioned exterior uses high quality materials (cladding of Serpentino green marble, cream travertine marble and Portland stone). Many of the interior spaces are unaltered, including the Council Chamber with its veneered rosewood folding screens. The entrance hall includes a large and intact John Piper mural. EH refused to recommend listing in 2004, but we have renewed our application as the building is again threatened with demolition after renewal of an existing planning consent.

Supported

Brownfield Estate, Rowlett Street, LB Tower Hamlets; Erno Goldfinger, 1965-68
We are supporting listing at Grade II* of the entire Brownfield Estate, including Balfron Tower (currently Grade II), along with Carradale House (Grade II), Glenkerry House, and the maisonettes and flats on Burcham Road and old people’s housing off St Leonard’s Road.All have a strong visual and social unity with the Tower which itself is the precursor to the Grade II* Trellick Tower. Goldfinger lived there for a short time to understand how it worked for residents. The whole estate is highly accomplished and remarkably intact. The immaculately detailed bush-hammered concrete, high quality brickwork, distinctive profiles and careful landscaping all justify a Grade II* listing.

The Coronet, Elephant and Castle, LB Tower Hamlets; Interiors by William Glen, 1932
This surviving Art Deco auditorium is by the ABC cinema chain’s staff architect. Despite alterations since the 1960s, many characteristic features, such as the large decorative grille work in the auditorium, the detailing to the proscenium arch, fluted pilasters, cornices and other original plasterwork, remain intact. The ornate balustrades from the foyers to the auditorium are still in place, as is the grand auditorium space and the spacious foyer areas. It is under threat from the extensive Elephant and Castle regeneration plans.

Harry Thubron Mural, former Gillison Warehouse, Sweet Street West, Holbeck, Leeds; Harry Thubron, 1960s
Thubron was one of the most important and influential art teachers in C20 Britain. During his career at Leeds College of Art (1955-64) he revolutionised art education by establishing the Basic Design Course, inspired by the German Bauhaus and the theoretical writings of Herbert Read. This mural reflects the development of his work in the mid 1960s, when he was experimenting with ways to depict 3D objects in a flat plane. It is the only known public mural by Thubron and is a rare survival of post-war abstract public art.

Panels on former International Wool Secretariat building, Valley Drive, Ilkley, Yorkshire; William Mitchell, 1960s
William Mitchell recently gave an entertaining talk as part of our recent lecture series on public art. This mural, with a wool theme, was his first piece on such a large scale. Ilkley was the administrative centre for wool production in the 1940s and 50s and from 1968 the home of the IWS’s technical centre. The monumental GRP panels tell the ‘Story of Wool’ in a semi-abstract style, showing interlocking lambs, sheep and rams plus the tangle of wool.

Cobblestones, 5 More Lane, Esher, Surrey; Blunden Shadbolt, 1938
This house was built for a local property developer, whose daughter continued to live there until 2014, but her departure has prompted the sale and proposed redevelopment of the property. Shadbolt produced meticulously crafted in a picturesque neo-Tudor style, reusing old timbers, worn bricks and weathered tiles from derelict houses and agricultural buildings. Cobblestones is one of his last houses in this style. It has a an eyebrow roof dormer, large inglenook fireplace and grand two tier staircase, and its overall intactness makes it particularly rare.

Certificate of Immunity

Robin Hood Gardens, Nos. 59-104, 105-146 and 147-214 Woolmore Street, LB Tower Hamlets; Alison and Peter Smithson, 1967
In the latest step in this long-running saga, we submitted detailed objections to an application to extend the COI for this estate. Regarding EH’s previous decisions not to recommend listing, we called for a more careful look at the building and a better understanding of the economic and technical conditions under which it was built, supported by new evidence from academic research and interviews with the original architects. We do not think EH’s arguments against listing were convincing or properly evidenced according to listing criteria.

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