The Twentieth Century Society

Listings reports

Spring 2014


Wallsend Library, Wallsend, Tyne and Wear; Williamson, Faulkner-Brown and Partners, 1966: Grade II

Wallsend Library, by influential library architect Harry Faulkner-Brown, was at the vanguard of a new post-war approach to library planning. Faulkner-Brown adopted a new modular approach and open-plan layout, with the intention of building in inherent flexibility to accommodate inevitable changes. The library retains its original fixed perimeter bookcases set into the exterior, glazed walls and its courtyard garden with original sculpture of a Roman head by Murray McCheyne.

Bonar Hall, University of Dundee, Dundee; Gillespie Kidd and Coia, 1975-77: Cat B

Bonar Hall, among the final works by Isi Metzstein and Andy MacMillan, was a key addition to the University of Dundee’s progressive modernist architecture building programme of the post-war period. Making clever use of a relatively restricted site, the building is characterised by its stepped profile with large uninterrupted expanses of brick and modular glazed infill. The hall has not been substantially altered since its completion, with lower and upper foyers, main hall and senate room interiors intact.

Abertay Gardens, Barnhill, Dundee; James Reginald Parr & Partners, 1967: Cat B

This private house, designed by a major Dundee practice, is an important, largely unaltered, late-modernist house of the post-war period. Designed to fit a steeply sloping site within the former garden grounds of Abertay House, it is characterised by imaginative and precise modular planning. It has a largely intact interior scheme, unaltered plan-form, and innovative design features, fixtures and fittings, all brought together with the inventive use of space and light.

Middleton Hall with Chapel, University of Hull, Yorkshire; Sir Leslie Martin, 1962-7: Grade II

Our original listing application was put on hold several years ago, and at our request was re-started following the recent grant of planning permission to significantly alter and extend the university complex. In listing the Hall and Chapel, EH recognised that they encapsulate the themes of Martin’s best work of the later 1950s and the 1960s. In its low-key, careful brick massing and strongly emotive spaces, Middleton Hall clearly references the work of Alvar Aalto. The building is handsomely appointed with polished beech panelling to the hall and foyer, and wood block floors to the broad, outer corridors, while the cube form of the small, non-denominational chapel is particularly powerful, successfully displaying the 3D geometry apparent in Aalto’s designs.

St Gabriel’s RC Church, Prestonpans, Scotland; Alison and Hutchison and Partners, 1965: Cat B

An unusual modernist concentric circular design makes St Gabriel’s an important example of post-war ecclesiastical architecture. It has retained its original character and form, with an interior characterised by a light and delicate sculptural quality. The plan cleverly uses expanding concentric circles to create windows and rooflights that direct shafts of light onto the altar and crucifix.

St Andrew’s RC Church, Livingston, Scotland; Alison and Hutchison and Partners, 1968-70: Cat B

St Andrew’s is a rare and fine example of a post-war church in Scandinavian style. Like St Gabriel’s (also by Alison and Hutchison and Partners), it has an unusual modernist circular design. It is prominently situated on a raised site in the heart of a newly established community, the rapidly emerging New Town of Livingston. St Andrew’s has been called the most dynamic exterior of any post-war church in Scotland.

Hospital administration block, Lynebank Hospital, Dunfermline, Scotland; Alison and Hutchison and Partners, 1965: Cat B

This building was listed at Category B as a rare and substantially unaltered example of post-war brutalist architecture at a hospital site in Britain. Its two asymmetrical, cantilevered lecture theatres are a focal point in the locality and demonstrate a sophisticated and consistent use of geometry in the building’s design.

Turned Down

French Railways House, Westminster CC; Shaw and Lloyd/Goldfinger, 1960-62

EH recognised that the building responds thoughtfully to its prominent site with careful proportions and the use of good quality materials, but described its architectural expression as unrelenting and lacking the distinction necessary to mark it out as of special interest at a national level. It has undergone several phases of alteration over time, with the loss of the Goldfinger and Perriand interiors, particularly that on the ground floor.

Cressingham Gardens, LB Lambeth; Lambeth Architects Department under Ted Hollamby, 1971-78

EH concluded that, although some elements within this large 1970s housing scheme are creatively planned and visually engaging, overall it lacks the structural cohesion, expression as an ensemble, and quality of detail of the best public housing schemes of the period. Window replacement also undermined the listing application. However, EH did recommend that the estate be included within the Brockwell Park Conservation Area: ‘It is. . . a successful and popular housing scheme which achieves a particularly careful contextual response to its sensitive setting. . . one of the more interesting housing schemes from this important period in the development of social housing, produced by one of the most progressive authorities.’

BBC Broadcasting House, Llandaff, Cardiff; Sir Percy Thomas & Son (design partner Dale Owen), 1963-67

The decision by Welsh Culture Minister John Griffiths not to list this important Welsh modernist building, despite a strong recommendation from Cadw, is very disappointing; it will result in the loss of the building, which the BBC has announced plans to vacate. Pevsner describes the building as ‘A varied group lined up beside the road, all of reinforced concrete structure, allowing characteristic sheets and bands of glazing, the dazzling white wall surfaces faced with Carrara marble aggregate.’ The building is thought to be relatively intact and is a major work by this firm.

Former NLA Tower, Croydon; R Seifert and Partners, 1963

We are disappointed that EH failed to support our application to list this distinctive 1960s tower block, citing ‘indifferent detailing’ and poor quality of urban design and landscaping. We think it is one of the best remaining examples of work by this practice, and the largely unaltered composition of the 23-storey tower, water feature and concrete landscaped setting make it an outstanding 1960s commercial building, on a par with Centre Point. The design of the tower is an unusual geometric and symmetrical composition, comprised of two square floor plates placed at 45 degree angles, with splayed corners, giving the building 24 sides and a strong rhythm of canted bays projecting in alternating positions. The ground floor is supported by eight giant angular pilotis, similar to the treatment at Seifert’s Centre Point. Planning permission has been granted for a ground floor retail extension which includes the demolition of part of the piazza, as well as the water feature.

Former Gaumont Cinema and Trafalgar public house, RB Kensington and Chelsea; Trent & Tully, 1934, converted 1972; Sidney Charles Clark, 1932

Although both these 1930s buildings have lost their original interiors, we supported the listing of the facades for their significant contribution to the streetscape. The cinema retains its distinctive fenestration pattern (with classic long windows and square ones above), Greek key design on the parapet, and copper and faience plaque decorations. EH felt that neither building met the standard for listing and issued Certificates of Immunity.

Put Forward

Former Swedish Seaman’s Church, LB Southwark; Wigglesworth and Marshall Mackenzie, 1930, rebuilt Bent Jorgen Jorgensen/Elkington Smithers, 1966

This Mission Church and adjoining hostel were originally built in 1930 and substantially rebuilt in 1966. Later alterations, including details of the fittings and finishes, were drawn up by Swedish architect Bent Jorgen Jorgensen and carried out by the English firm Elkington Smithers. High quality materials are combined with striking design features, including unique lettering and glass panelling on the exterior, bold fireplaces and elegant light fittings. It therefore represents a remarkable synthesis of British church architecture and Scandinavian design, incorporating distinctive mid-century Swedish craftsmanship into a classic example of a 1930s British church building.

Sainsbury’s Greenwich, LB Greenwich; Chetwood Associates, 1999

Part of the pre-Millennium development of the Greenwich Peninsula, this supermarket combines pioneering technological innovation with a striking visual form. Key design features include a north-lit sales area, underfloor heating, passive ventilation, earth sheltering, bore holes into the London aquifer, photovoltaics, wind turbines and recycled materials throughout. This technological innovation has driven and is expressed in the building’s domed, ovoid form, described by one journal as a ‘spectacular zoomorphic-shape’. The interior is characterised by an airy openness, with views up to blue sky through roof lights. The store won the RIBA Sustainability Award in 2000 and was nominated for the Stirling Prize. Now Sainsbury’s are moving to a bigger neighbouring site, and Ikea has successfully applied for planning permission to raze the building. As it is less than 15 years old, we have applied for listing at Grade II*.

Bradford Central Library, Bradford City Council; W C Brown, City Architect, 1964

Described by EH as ‘the most ambitious new city library’ of its period, the building consists of a ‘monumental’ ten-storey tower block, a two-storey podium block which forms the entrance hall and two mezzanine levels, and an adjoining auditorium with a seated capacity of 400. It combines modernist design, high quality building materials and an innovative, flexible floor plan and stacking system reflecting a new post-war approach to library design. This truly bold statement of civic pride was closed in 2011 and is under threat from plans to convert to office use.

St Bede’s Church and Institute for Deaf People, LB Lambeth; Sir Edward Maufe, 1924

This is a rare example of a church designed specifically for the needs of the deaf and the deaf-blind: there is no organ or choir; there are two pulpits (one for the visiting clergy and one for the sign-language interpreter), windows are high up, set in deep reveals and use obscured glass so as not to dazzle congregants; the floor is raked to ease viewing. St Bede’s is characterised by a pared-down simplicity and restraint and refinement in detailing that makes reference to contemporary Swedish architecture.

Church of Christ the King and Benedictine Monastery, LB Enfield; Dom Constantine Bosschaerts, 1940

This is probably the earliest church in England in the style of the continental Liturgical Movement and one of very few designed and built by monks and nuns. The main church building has a reinforced concrete frame, faced with white bricks (unusual for an inter-war British building) accented with bright red letters, cross and glazing bars. The proportions and interplay of horizontal and vertical rectangular massing create a ‘Dudokian’ feel more commonly found in Belgium or Holland.


Ready Mix Concrete (RMC) International Headquarters, Egham, Surrey; Edward Cullinan Architects, 1990

We are supporting a third party application to list this innovative headquarters building by the Cullinan practice which was commissioned to build 5000 sq m of office space in the grounds of Grade II-listed Eastley End House. The complex is under threat from a planning application which seeks to demolish and develop the site for housing.

St Saviour’s RDD Church, East Acton, LB Ealing; Sir Edward Maufe, 1924-27

We supported a third party application to list this sister church to St Bede’s, Lambeth. It is distinctive not only for the design features for ‘deaf and dumb’ congregants, but also for design ideas that became part of Maufe’s later non-specialist churches (including Guildford Cathedral).

Debenhams car park, Westminster CC; Blampied and Partners, 1968/69

We supported an application to list this multi-storey car park, a rare survivor of early attempts to make car parks visually interesting in the townscape. It features a striking façade of interlocking triangles and features intended to channel weathering to enhance the appearance of the building.


Other Listings

Forty post-1914 buildings were designated beween January and March 2014. These included 15 war memorials: at Waltham Forest, one with a poignant sculpture of a mourning female figure at the foot of a cenotaph; at Huntingdon, a moving sculpture of a soldier deep in thought, by Kathleen Scott, widow of Captain Scott of the Antarctic; and at Bolton-upon-Dearne, one in the form of a roofed inglenook fireplace, symbolising ‘hearth and home’.

Also listed were four K6 telephone boxes (Giles Gilbert Scott, 1935) and five military structures, including a unique pillbox at Filton Airfield, a group of four Coastal Artillery searchlights, and the Atomic Weapons Research Establishment test buildings and structures at Orford Ness.

The Polygons, ‘a good and rare example of a smaller modern house’, was built in 1978/79 by Granville Gough. The highly unusual organic design is composed of a series of inter-linked polygonal shapes which maximise natural light views of the gardens through large wrap-around windows, light wells, floor-to-ceiling glazing and glazed patio doors. Internally the house is little altered, retaining its cherry-wood kitchen units, backlit Roset display units, and even its original shagpile carpet.

Four Roman Catholic churches were listed: St Winefride (F X Velarde, 1956) a small church in his distinctive style which drew on Romanesque architecture and the work of modern German designers; St Cuthbert by the Forest (1953-55), also by Velarde, a tiny church with careful composition and massing and a detached miniature campanile; St Anthony (Adrian Gilbert Scott, 1959/60), designed ‘on a cathedral-like scale’ with a dramatic west end incorporating a giant camel-vaulted arch containing the recessed west entrance; and St Michael and All Angels (Richard O’Mahony,1964/65) a bold and dynamic design by Richard O’Mahony with a T-shaped plan and angles and lighting that direct attention to the sanctuary and font.

Two inter-war public houses have been listed: the Holly Bush in Macclesfield (1935), a rare survival of a small urban pub in the ‘Brewer’s Tudor’ style, and the Wernley (1933/34), an inter-war roadhouse in the Jacobean style retaining remnants of a clubhouse and bowling green.

Blackley Crematorium (Leonard C Howitt, 1959) was one of the first crematoria in Britain to adopt a modern European design, reflected in the crisp clean lines and massive bow window of the main chapel. There is high-quality abstract-patterned coloured glass.

Henrietta Billings and Ellen Gates

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