The Twentieth Century Society

Listings reports

October 2013

Analysis of recent listings has thrown up some interesting examples. So far, 85 post-1914 buildings have been designated this year on English Heritage’s recommendation, from houses, churches and schools to military structures, sports facilities and telephone boxes. Even a model village has made it onto the list. Unless otherwise stated, all the following have been listed at Grade II.

First, a clutch of individual London houses designed in the 1960s: 22 Murray Mews in Camden, which was recognised for its ‘ingenious use of a tiny site’ – just 18m by 7m;  and 22 Parkside in Wimbledon, a high-tech, steel-framed house of 1968-70, designed by Richard and Su Rogers for his parents, now listed Grade II*.   At the grander end of the scale, Upper Exbury, by 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’.

Schools included the former Alexandra Priory School and Alexandra Resource Centre, part of Neave Brown’s innovative1970s Alexandra Road Estate in Camden (already Grade II*). This was singled out for the architect’s response to a highly specialised brief and a confined site, which resulted in a school of ‘ingenious design and meticulous execution’. Also listed was Bierton School in Birmingham, completed in 1928 by the noted practice of Harvey and Wicks in a neo-Georgian style.

Sports-related structures include a former Squash Court at Latymer Prep School in Hammersmith from the early 1930s, and a 1935 diving stage at Purley Way Lido in Croydon. While the Lido itself has largely been demolished, the diving platform is the only one of four such inter-war concrete structures known to survive in England.  Street furniture includes three of Sir Giles Gilbert Scott’s K6 telephone boxes (1935) and eight bespoke Richardson Candle wall-mounted street lamps, designed by Sir Albert Richardson in 1957.

A trio of Roman Catholic churches span the early, mid and late twentieth century:  St Edward’s Church, Whitley Bay (1926-28) by Stienlet & Maxwell of Newcastle,  a striking Romanesque design blending German and Italian Romanesque elements; St Jude, Wigan, of 1964-65, with its powerful fan-shaped design using a radiating framework of deeply-protruding, exposed concrete beams in-filled with warm brick, and Marychurch in Hatfield (George Mathers, 1970), with fine dalle de verre stained glass.

The model village at Bourton-on-the-Water (1936-40) was one of the earliest miniature villages to be built in England. Its construction by builders rather than model makers is reflected in the high quality of the structures, such as the traceried church windows and miniature dry-stone walls. Even the roofs have Cotswold stone slates.

Coinciding with next year’s centenary of the start of WWI, over twenty war memorials, mausoleums and gravestones have been added, mostly from the early 1920s. The Art Deco war memorial in Coventry War Memorial Park has been listed at Grade II*, while 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, only to die in the 1918 flu epidemic.

Among sixteen military structures are a Grade II* concrete bomb chamber in Sevenoaks, Kent, specifically designed for the secret development of Britain’s first atomic bomb; 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. This facility is believed to have been responsible for the design of every vessel (both ship and submarine) built for the British armed forces since it became operational here.

Henrietta Billings and Ellen Gates

« Back to Listing reports archive