The Twentieth Century Society

Listings reports

Spring 2015


Post-war public libraries

Listed (all at Grade II)
● Milton Keynes Central Library,
555 Silbury Boulevard, Milton Keynes; Buckinghamshire County Council Architects’ Department (led by Paul Markcrow), 1979-81.
● Lillington Library, Valley Road, Lillington, Leamington Spa, Warwickshire; Henry Fedeski of Fedeski and Rayner Architects, 1959-60.
● Torquay Central Library, Lymington Road, Torquay, Devon; Borough Engineer
P W Ladmore, 1937.
● Bourne Hall Library and Social Centre, Bournehall, Spring Street, Epsom, Surrey;
A G Sheppard Fidler and Associates, 1967-70.
● Chandler’s Ford Library, Oakmount Road, Chandler’s Ford, Eastleigh, Hampshire; County Architect Colin Stansfield Smith, 1981-82.
● West Sussex Library, Tower Street, Chichester, West Sussex; County Architect
F R Steele, succeeded by B Peters, 1965-66.

Not recommended for listing
● Nailsea Library, Somerset Square, Nailsea, North Somerset; County Architect Bernard C Adams, in association with Gallanaugh & Partners, 1969-71.
● Morecambe Library, Central Drive, Morecambe, Lancashire; Lancashire Architects’ Department (under County Architect Roger Booth), 1965-67.

Turned Down

Needler Hall, University of Hull, Northgate, Cottingham, Hull, East Riding of Yorkshire; Trevor Dannatt, 1962-64

This fine example of a mid-1960s hall of residence was turned down for listing, despite the threat of imminent redevelopment. Historic England concluded that ‘overall it lacks the architectural distinction and innovative qualities of student accommodation present in contemporary listed halls of residence.’

HSBC, Cloth Hall Street, Huddersfield, West Yorkshire; Peter Womersley, 1969-1972

Having assessed the HSBC building as part of its thematic assessment of later C20 commercial offices from 1964-94, Historic England concluded that it did not attain the very high level of distinction required to list post-war office buildings, and that it lacked the innovation and imaginative design of Womersley’s other listed buildings.

Welbeck Street multi-storey car park, 74-77 Welbeck Street, LB Westminster; Michael Blampied & Partners, 1968-70

Built for Debenhams behind their Oxford Street store, this car park uses a modular system of load-bearing pre-cast concrete Y-shaped columns to support the decks from the perimeter of the building. In rejecting listing, Historic England concluded that the resulting ‘jazzy’ façade of interconnecting V-shaped elements was derivative and a relatively late example of Pop Art style applied to architecture.

National Savings and Investment Building, Mythrop Road, Blackpool; N Greeney of the Ministry of Public Works and Derek Lovejoy Partnership, 1970s
We put forward for listing this unusual building with an interesting polygonal plan and paraboloid roof, but Historic England decided not to list and issued a Certificate of Immunity. It concluded that although the building has some design interest for its varied massing and striking forms, listed examples of office buildings of this period demonstrate greater levels of imagination, ingenuity or ambition. In addition, although the plan was striking, it was neither pioneering nor innovative for its late date.

Roman Catholic Church of St Catherine of Siena, Lowton, Warrington, Cheshire; Weightman & Bullen, 1958-59

We supported a third-party listing application for this early Weightman & Bullen modernist-style Catholic church, but Historic England said it was less accomplished than other work by the practice. As post-war Catholic churches are numerous, only the best examples can be listed.

Roman Catholic Church of St Thomas of Canterbury, Whyteleafe, Surrey; J F G Hastings of F G Broadbent & Partners, 1960-61
St Thomas’s was considered for listing primarily because of glass on the front elevation designed by Pierre Fourmaintraux of the Whitefriars Glass Studio. But Historic England concluded that the glass did not on its own justify the listing of a building which is not otherwise of special architectural or historic interest.

Roman Catholic Church of Christ the King, Bramley Road, Cockfosters, LB Enfield, London; Dom Constantine Bosschaerts, 1936-40 and 1950-57

Dom Constantine Bosschaerts, founder of the Vita et Pax Foundation, pioneered a progressive Catholicism which encouraged lay participation and democratisation of the liturgy. But this church reflects few of these principles, and while Historic England acknowledged that the north elevation of the main building, with its tower and recessed cross, original lettering, and bold, sculptural composition, is impressive, overall the quality of the architecture is modest and compromised by the several phases of construction.

Put Forward

Western Morning News building, Brest Road, Derriford, Plymouth, Devon; Sir Nicholas Grimshaw; 1991-93

This award-winning building is very much concerned with the idea of communication: the three-storey boat-shaped structure, encased in a doubly curved glass cladding, exemplified transparency, with the printing presses and offices visible to the public, especially when lit up at night. The Society put this important landmark building forward for listing at Grade II*, and this has been recommended by Historic England (see Casework).

All Saints Darlaston, Walsall Road, Darlaston, West Midlands (1951-52); and Emmanuel Bentley, Cairn Drive, Bentley, Walsall, West Midlands (1954-56); both by Richard Twentyman

Twentyman is said to have pioneered the Modern movement in the West Midlands. Both these churches are modernist in style but relatively traditional in liturgical arrangement, reflecting the rather conservative spirit of the post-war Church of England. Both are characterised by a simple but bold composition, with a careful grouping of balanced masses, an emphasis on horizontal and vertical lines and asymmetry. There is a confident use of materials, such as vast, flat walls of brick and sweeping roofs of copper, and a mastery of the effects of light, through the thoughtful placing and shaping of windows; and the use of characteristic decorative features, such as bench ends with all the corners attractively rounded.

Commonwealth House, 1 New Oxford Street, LB Camden, London; H P Cart de Lafontaine (consulting architects
W L Lewis & Partners), 1939

This prominent nine-storey office building incorporates shops at ground level, offices above, premises for the National Bank, and a pub. Designed in the moderne streamlined style, with horizontal bands of Crittall-style windows and brown brick and faience cladding, it also incorporates more geometric Art Deco detailing. The triangular site where New Oxford Street and High Holborn meet at an acute angle dictated an asymmetrical A-shaped plan around an open triangular atrium, with a prominent round clock tower at the apex which terminates views from the east. The sculpted New Oxford Street frontage has three projecting oriel bays, in contrast to the flat High Holborn façade.


Portland House, Aldermaston Court, Aldermaston, Reading, West Berkshire; Richard Gilbert Scott of Sir Giles Scott and Partners, 1983-85

Portland House was built as the international headquarters building for Blue Circle, the construction industry’s biggest cement supplier. As would be expected, it is a showcase for the use of concrete, incorporating a mix of pre-cast and in situ concrete, all constructed to a high specification and with carefully selected and combined colours and texture. The complex of pagoda-like pavilions linked by atria creates a stepped building that fits well into the contours of its site beside an ornamental lake.

RC Church of Our Lady of the Wayside, Shirley, Solihull, West Midlands; Brian Rush of Rush, Granelli and Partners, stained and coloured glass by Tom Friars and sculpture by Elisabeth Frink and Walter Ritchie, 1965-67

We supported a third-party application to list this outstanding C20 church. The sculptural spire, concave roof with high-level glazing and innovative fan-shaped layout create a dramatic architectural form. The church is remarkably intact and boasts a striking collection of complete fittings, including the coloured glass and sculpture by noted designers.

Other Listings

Cobblestones, 5 More Lane, Esher, Surrey; Blunden Shadbolt, 1938; Grade II

Designed by Shadbolt in a picturesque Tudor Revival style with Arts & Crafts influences, Cobblestones features carefully crafted and reused historic building materials, an eyebrow roof dormer, a large inglenook fireplace and a grand two-tier staircase. In recommending listing, Historic England (formerly English Heritage) cited the extraordinary intactness of the house, which as a result appears as ‘a time capsule of the 1930s’.

The Coventry Churches: Church of St Oswald, community hall and bell tower, Jardine Crescent, Tile Hill, Coventry; Church of St John the Divine, church hall and bell tower, Robin Hood Road, Willenhall, Coventry; Church of St Chad and bell tower, Hillmorton Road, Wood End, Coventry; all by Sir Basil Spence, 1954-57; all Grade II

This group of three churches, all designed by Spence for the outskirts of Coventry, use the same basic plan, design and materials. Each includes church, detached tower, church hall and foyer, and a later vicarage, but with subtle variations to the form or layout. Spence used these churches as a test-bed for ideas which subsequently informed refinements to his designs for Coventry Cathedral. They are also significant for the first use of the ‘no-fines’ method of concrete construction on a large scale.

Lander’s Stonemasons Showroom, 605-609 Harrow Road, Kensal Green, London; John Farrer & Sons, 1927; Grade II

We supported the listing of this rare and largely unaltered inter-war stonemasons showroom. In recommending listing, Historic England cited the deliberately eclectic revivalist style and the association with the Lander family of monumental masons who had close links to Kensal Green, London’s earliest private cemetery.

Regent Street Cinema, Regent Street Polytechnic, Regent Street, LB Westminster, London; F J Wills, 1927; Grade II

This cinema was a Society case in 2012 when we raised concerns that this unique survival was not referred to in the list description for the building. This has now been updated, revised and extended to include the 1927 cinema.

Roman Catholic Church of St Joseph, Heywood, Manchester; Henry Oswald Hill, 1913-16; Grade II

St Joseph’s is an urban Catholic church in a Romanesque style, representative of the interest in early Christian architecture in the late C19 and early C20. In recommending listing, Historic England cited the harmonious use of internal space and the impressive, high-quality mosaic scheme by Eric Newton of Ludwig Oppenheimer Ltd.

Church of St George, Common View, Letchworth Garden City, Hertfordshire; Peter Bosanquet, 1962-63; Grade II

We supported an application by a member of C20’s NW Group to list this striking and innovative church, an early response to the ideas of the Liturgical Movement as reflected in the arrow-shaped plan, forward altar and radiating pews. Bosanquet’s most innovative and successful design, the church retains a near complete set of liturgical furniture, fixtures and fittings by him. It also contains an impressive fibreglass sculpture of Christ, unusual for an Anglican church, by Harry R Phillips.

Roman Catholic Church of St Joseph, Uppingham Road, Leicester; Thomas E Wilson, 1967-68; Grade II

We supported a third-party application to list this imposing church with its distinctive townscape presence. Historic England described St Joseph’s as ‘an assured example of the circular plan type and a coherent design that fully expresses the ideas of the Second Vatican Council’.

Middleton Hall and associated Chapel, and Larkin Building, off Cottingham Road, University of Hull, East Riding of Yorkshire; Sir Leslie Martin, 1965-67; Grade II

Middleton Hall was listed at Grade II in 2014, and the listing has now been amended to include the taller, more linear Larkin Building to the rear. The Larkin Building was a key element in Martin’s scheme to bring coherence and focus to the university campus and shares many of Middleton Hall’s features, including the polished beech panelling to the lecture theatres and main entrance lobbies.

Ellen Gates

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