The Twentieth Century Society

Regional groups

Derby Assembly Rooms

News: Horizon factory and Derby Assembly Rooms

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There are two important issues in the region which C20 members will wish to be aware of as both concern major twentieth century buildings. The first is Imperial Tobacco’s Horizon Factory in Nottingham which recently had an application for listing turned down by Historic England. C20 will consider its position on this, but if anyone has any further information which they think may help then please get in touch. The architectural historian Kenneth Powell and architect Rab Bennetts have already been most helpful in supplying their knowledge of Arup Associates and revealing how influential the building is in terms of technology – heat recycling, filtration – and management contracting. Gateway 2 in Basingstoke, 1 Finsbury Avenue and 1 Broadgate owe a debt of gratitude to this. Both C20 East Midlands and the Nottingham Civic Society are keen to see this seminal building be given a new life.

The second issue is all about the Derby Assembly Rooms. Some will already be aware that this key city centre building suffered a fire ago a few years ago and since then Derby City Council have proposed to demolish and replace it. However we and the Nottingham and Derby Society of Architects feel that this is all rather hasty and it would be better to try and refurbish and adapt a building which has a bold, thorough and imaginative design. For those of you unfamiliar with the building I would invite you to look at the excellent photos on Riba Pix.

In other news, C20 East Midlands member and secretary Ian Waites is currently co-organising a University of Hertfordshire/University of Lincoln collaborative conference entitled Utopia! Experiments in Perfection, which will take place at the Spirella Ballroom in Letchworth Garden City on 12th November, 10.30am-5pm. External delegates are welcome – please contact Ian Waites for further details. Former C20 Chairman Alan Powers will be giving the keynote speech.

Last Friday Elain Harwood launched her new book Space, Hope and Brutalism, at the Five Leaves Bookshop in Nottingham and gave a very enjoyable talk, which was well received. The event was organised by C20 East Midlands and the Five Leaves Bookshop. Elain’s new book is really impressive and features some excellent photographs of buildings in the East Midlands – my favorite being the Clipstone headstocks.

As C20 Chair, I also apologise for a rather quiet summer since our very well attended tour of Leicester back in June. But this has been for a good reason: look out for the launch date of my new illustrated book published by Nottingham City Homes, ‘Homes and Places: A History of Nottingham’s Council Housing’. It will make a good Christmas present I promise!

Chris Matthews

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