Interesting Art Deco UK
Another jewel in the Perivale crown of Art Moderne and Art Deco buildings - so what happened? This one was demolished and subsequently missed the 'eyesore' stage never to be seen again! What makes this particularly galling is that the structure shared the architects of the Hoover Factory!
Getty provides us with another view of the early days of the factory, certainly judging by the fine array of cars at the front of the building
Image of what appears to be a very new and unused factory (no sign of the signage visible in the top photograph) probably just completed supplied courtesy and © of the 20th Century Society and Wallis, Gilbert & Partners
The portal above the entrance into the Firestone building with strong Egyptian influence but no change to the instantly recognisable and distinctive Firestone titular capital 'F'
Image supplied courtesy and © of the 20th Century Society and Gavin Stamp
From the 20th Century Society web-site (full article available):
Type: Commercial/offices / Architect: Wallis, Gilbert & Partners / Location: Great West Road, Brentford, London
Every conservation society needs a martyr – a demolition so outrageous and shocking that the press and public realise the need for the society. For the Twentieth Century Society the Firestone Factory became its martyr in 1980.
Wallis, Gilbert and Partners designed it, and the Hoover Factory, in the style now known as Art Deco but then called jazz modern or moderne. At the time, the influential Architectural Review championed the Modern Movement and the moderne style was anathema. By 1979 this view was in retreat; ornament had begun to seem a tempting alternative to barebones functionalism and the New Brutalism. The Firestone Building was a distinguished example of Art Deco, built for the American tyre manufacturers, the Firestone Tire and Rubber Company of Akron, Ohio; and the design of the whole building, not just the façade, was based on that of an Egyptian temple.
Image of the entrance columns and doorway displaying a very pronounced Egyptian influence (also seen on the facade of the Carreras Black Cat factory) supplied courtesy and © of the 20th Century Society and Wallis, Gilbert & Partners
All lit up and nowhere to go except the rubble mountain - how could they? The lamps leading to the doorway are very reminiscent of those that were on the entrance railings at the John Player factory in Nottingham. The Firestone Factory, Brentford. The building was demolished in August 1980. Photograph: Associated Newspapers/Rex
When they decided to cease production in Brentford, they sold the land for development. A call from the Department of the Environment to the developers alerted them that the minister, Michael Heseltine, was going to list the building on Tuesday; on Sunday bulldozers were sent in to demolish the façade. It was a calculated act of philistinism. Simon Jenkins wrote in the first Thirties Society Journal: ‘I can recall few buildings of the last decade whose destruction has produced more spontaneous outrage from laymen.’ Just afterwards, senior civil servant Brian Anthony ‘serendipitously knocked on Heseltine’s door and came up with a plan to prevent the Firestone debacle from happening again’ (obituary in The Times); one of his triumphs was to save the Hoover Factory. That would probably not have happened but for the martyrdom of the Firestone.
The Guadrian ran an article entitled "What were they thinking?" (Your favourite buildings demolished)
Although Morecambe prides itself on the newly restored Midland Hotel it also boasted many other Streamline Modern / Art Deco buildings some now lost forever. Don's Café is one of the many casualties.
Postcard images of Don Café as very little historical/architectural information is freely available - more here
The history of the Don Café has not been easy to compile and although an owner is named in newspaper articles no specific architectural information is available - here is what I have managed to discover so far.
Front elevation courtesy of the 'Seahorse' Newsletter no. 9 June 2003
A detail of the official opening announcement from the Lancashire Daily Post on Thursday, July 18th 1935 - image courtesy of the British Newspaper Archive
The National Piers Society concentrates (quite rightly) on the whole generic history of the Central Pier, on which the Don Café was situated, rather than the café itself and on its web-page devoted to Morecambe and gives the following information :
"Proposals for a pier were publicised in 1867 and construction began in 1868. It opened on 25th March 1869 having cost £10,000. It was enlarged in the early 1870s at a cost of £5,000. The 912 foot structure included a large pier-head, ideal for the steamers that called until 1914. In 1897/8, a pavilion was added but it was destroyed by fire on 31st July 1933 and a new, 2000-seat pavilion/ballroom was built in 1935/6 at a cost of £25,000. Other facilities included open-air roller-skating, the Marine café and motorboat cruises around the bay.
The pier closed at Easter 1986 after decking collapsed at the seaward end. A fire on 4th February 1987 damaged the amusement arcade at the shoreward end and, in November 1989, the owners were instructed by the Council to either upgrade or demolish the structure. The pier was sold in January 1990 and repair work began. However, in March 1991, a Council report effectively condemned the pier. The ballroom was destroyed by fire on Easter Sunday 1991 and demolition began in March 1992."
So whilst life was being given to the Midland Hotel not far away along the shoreline, the central pier was destroyed by fire in 1933. In general terms the pier seemed prone to bad luck and multiple instances of fire. The first reference to the pier (that I can find) after its untimely destruction is in a newspaper article in the Lancashire Daily Post dated 28th December 1934 with the screaming headline "Plans for Morecambe Pier rebuilding turned down. Objections to proposed sites of cafés turned down"
The objections and concerns, however, were smoothed out as the next substantial and wonderful reference I found was the official announcement of the opening of the new Central Pier in the Lancashire Daily Post dated 18th July 1935.
The official announcement and contributors to the rebuilding of the new Central Pier in Morecambe as shown in the Lancashire Daily Post the day before the event - image courtesy and © of the British Newspaper Archive
The opening paragraph states "After providing a topic for several Town Council discussions, the new Central Pier at Morecambe, which has been reconstructed at a cost of £50,000, will give the resort once more a seafront worthy of its name when it is officially opened tomorrow. The destruction of the old pier in July, 1933, left a real scar on the promenade, for the seaward end was a mere mess of tangled metal, but since early this year the ugly skeleton has been removed and made into a fine pier structure by the new proprietors. Thus after two years, when visitors to Morecambe, apart from the local residents, have missed this essential seaside amenity, the scheme is bound to earn praise from all quarters, and especially from the tradesmen of the town."
It then mentions the 'New Café' - "At the entrance to the pier, about 100 feet from the forebay, a modification to the original plan, is a two-storey café, also of the latest design, with the turnstiles to the pier on the eastward side, so that there is free access to the promenade to the front of the café, which has been named the ‘Don’. Opened by the Mayor of Morecambe and Heysham, Alderman T. Waite, at the end of June at an inaugural luncheon attended by the directors of the new pier company, this building too, contains and electric fire alarm, and among other electric appliances in the café are the cooking apparatus and a floor polisher." The article then names the owners of the pier company but does not specifically name them as owners of the café but it is good to see attention paid to the style of the building.
No further specific mention is made of the café as a functioning business but the advertising space certainly shows that this structure was meant to play a major role on the pier.
Following this, I found two more references to fire and mishaps at the Don Café - two instances of fire occurred in 1935 on the same day, just a week after it was officially opened and before the pier was opened to the public! (source : Lancashire Daily Post). There is also a name of an occupant given, Mr T Horne, but was he the owner? An advertisement from 1946 and a reported scalding in 1952 (source Lancaster Guardian and Observer) - but how much longer the café existed after 1952 I have yet to determine.
Two fires on the same day in 1935 before just after the inaugural opening in 1935
Advertising in 1946 and the report of a scalding of an employee in 1952
Whilst searching ebay for images of the Don Café I hope to establish more timelines. I have stablished through newspaper reports and advertisements that the café was still functioning in 1952 but a postcard which an ebay seller says is postmarked 1966 (not shown) shows that the café is no longer a feature.
The garage was a working petrol station until 1973 and was run by John Lillywhite (left), who died in 1997 but it fell into disrepair until it was lovingly restored
Former glory: This stunning art deco petrol station in West Sussex has been converted into luxury apartments after being ignored for 40 years
Transformation: The pumps, which were installed in the late 1940s or early 1950s, add to the character of this unique art deco listed garage.
Images courtesy and © of John Connor Press
Image courtesy and © of The Guardian
Image courtesy and © of Panasonic
Complete with swaying palm trees, this stunning art deco building would not look out of place on the French Riviera (or even Miami). But it’s actually in West Sussex and has been lovingly restored to its former glory after failing into a state of disrepair. The 1930s petrol station – called the Manor Road Garage – has been converted into a series of luxury apartment, with a two-bedroom flat on the market for £300,000.
As these stunning images show, the weed-infested court yard has been stripped and replaced by gleaming tarmac. And the four petrol pubs, faded by the sun, and four decades of neglect have been buffed, shined and painted a brilliant yellow. The windows that were previously boarded up have been replaced and restored to their former glory. The sign, saying 'Manor Road Garage', remains but it has been repainted and now stands in front of four fully lit up Shell petrol pumps.
The façade and the four petrol pumps were awarded Grade II listed status six years ago by English Heritage, making in a building of ‘national importance’ and ‘special interest’. Its front was built in 1934 in the ‘moderne’ - or art deco – style, with the petrol pumps added sometime in the late 1940s or early 1950s and described as ‘very rare survivals’ by British Listed Buildings. The garage, in East Preston, was a working petrol station until 1973 and was run by John Lillywhite, who died in 1997. When the garage was cleared a decade later, vintage Rolls Royces, MGs and a grey Fergie tractor were all found in various states of disrepair inside. Source : Daily Mail
Manor Road Garage, East Preston, West Sussex - Published on 31 Jan 2015
The historically important art deco influenced facade of the former Manor Road Garage at East Preston in West Sussex has been fully restored and now fronts a development of private homes.
Manor Road Garage was an architect designed garage and opened for business in 1934. In the 1930's there were many garages built with an art deco influence and sadly many have long since been redeveloped and lost for ever. Manor Road Garage was a working garage until the owner died in the early 1970's and for 40 years it lay in disuse. In 2007, and in recognition of its important design characteristics, English Heritage gave the building, and its surviving 1950's Avery Hardoll petrol pumps, a grade 2 listed building status. A plan was put forward to restore the facade and petrol pumps and to redevelop the rest of the site into private apartments and in 2013 that plan had become a reality when the development and restoration was completed. Source & © Norman Atkinson LRPS You Tube
On the 22nd May 1930 an application was submitted by an F H Songhurst (the owner or architect) for an extension to Manor Road Garage. The builders were Boulton and Paul of Norwich, a firm of note who also had a tradition of supplying prefabricated buildings and motor houses, publishing a catalogue of the latter. On 22nd January 1934 an application was submitted by a Mr E R Peacock for alterations and additions to Manor Road Garage, and was approved that month. These are likely to have included the Moderne style frontage building.
An advertisement for Manor Road Garage, thought to be of about 1937, survives in Richard Hollis Estate Agents guide. This specifies sales, service and repairs with cars for hire and a garage for 50 cars. The four petrol pumps on the forecourt are of 1940s or early 1950s date. The building continued in use as a working garage until circa 1973 and was then unoccupied until the time of survey. Source : English Heritage and British Listed Buildings
The Curzon Cinema in Carrington, Nottingham only a stone's throw away from Church Drive (where I was born and lived/or had as a home base until the age of 24) and the Art Deco Carrington Lido where I learned to swim. I remember vividly going to this cinema with my father and sister and I most decidedly remember those oh so steep steps - well they were to me! I was six years old when the cinema was closed so I must have been started going quite early on in my life.
Curzon Cinema in Carrington - image courtesy of Cinema Treasures (can also be found on the Picture the Past website)
The Curzon was opened on Thursday, 1st August 1935 with Will Hay in the 'Radio Parade of 1935'. The cinema was independently operated (which means there won't be useful information recorded anywhere) and was successful until the outbreak of WWII. Despite being considered an 'upmarket' cinema' it still closed for an 'indefinite' period on Saturday, 20th December 1958 whilst showing the popular 'Anchor's Away' starring Gene Kelly (and Frank Sinatra!) and never re-opened. Of course, this led to the usual dénouement and another fascinating Art Deco building from my childhood was demolished and replaced by an open-court garage. (Original contribution by Ken Roe)
From 'The History of Carrington' by Terry Fry - Talkies were so popular in the 1930s that a decision was made to build a cinema in Carrington. The Curzon, designed by C. Edmund Wilford of Leicester, was opened on August 1st, 1935, and the first two films shown were "Radio Parade of 1935" and "Not tonight Josephine." The cinema had a short life and closed down on December 20th 1958, due partly to the high entertainment tax.'
The Great West Road was once known as The Golden Mile. The factories along it were built in the late 1920s and the early 1930s, often by American companies which relied on advertising to promote their products. The factories themselves were used as advertising, which is why they were so eye-catching and exciting. They had to boast their modernity. Apart from Firestone, there was Trico (American windscreen wipers), Sperry Gyroscope, Pyrene fire extinguishers, Macleans, Gillette and Jantzen American swimwear. A similar company, Hoover, built their factory on the Western Avenue. Of British and European companies there were Henley’s – ‘The world’s biggest petrol station’ – the Garden Bakery of Macfarlane Lang, Coty Cosmetics, and Simmonds Aerocessories (now the Beecham building). Source : Brentford & Chiswick.org
Architects sketch for the new Philco building which started being built in 1935
Philco products advertisement from 1934
It seems fitting that Perivale Tube Station should be as stylish as many of its local incumbents, Philco (above), the Hoover Factory, the Firestone Building and others. some still standing, others not - but the Tube station stands as shining example of the Art Moderne surroundings it inhabits.
Image and narrative courtesy and © of Modernist Britain
Standing on Horsenden Lane in Greenford, Middlesex (just off the A40 Western Avenue), Perivale is an underground station on the western part of the Central Line. Until the early 1930s public transport in London was operated by a many separate private companies, together operating a fragmented service to passengers. In 1933 the London Passenger Transport Act brought together public transport in London under the control of the London Passenger Transport Board. Tube lines, buses, coaches and trams were combined, although overground lines operated by the mainline railway companies were not included. Along with a massive merger and restructure of the combined assets of the disparate range of companies, London Transport embarked on a works programme to expand and improve the network. Essentially the private companies had barely managed to make a decent enough profit to reward shareholders and reinvest in the network, so much work was required. Using deep tunnels to push out into the suburbs and then above-ground lines, the Underground network was to expand greatly in the proposed 'New Works Programme'. The 'New Works Programme' saw the development of new line extensions, additional tunnelling and track work, new and redeveloped stations and new rolling stock. The programme, introduced in 1935, planned for five year's development. However, the outbreak of the Second World War saw plans put on hold.
In post-war Britain London Transport was much less able to embark on an ambitious programme of works. Not only did the network suffer bomb-damage, but rolling stock, tracks and stations had been pressed into prolonged war service. Reinstating pre-war levels of service took priority over new developments. Perivale Underground Station was one such example where the outbreak of hostilities had thwarted developments. Construction began in 1938 to designs by Australian architect Brian Lewis (1906-1991) but it was not completed until 1947, and then only in reduced form. A wing containing shops and a tower were dropped leaving a scaled down scheme. Perivale Station is built around a reinforced concrete frame, evidenced by the radiating concrete beams of the ticket hall ceiling. The front elevation is clad in red brick and has a concave, curved facade. At street level there are two wide entrances either side of a central curved wall with four poster display panels. Each side of the building has a shop unit, either side of the entrances. The western shop is the larger of the two extending out with a convex frontage. Above is a deep, projecting canopy in a serpentine 'S' shape. The metal canopy features illuminated blue-glass panels. The original panels carried separately 'Central Line' lettering, the London Underground roundel and the name 'Perivale Station'. The panels were repeated in sequence across the entire canopy, forming a 'ribbon' of blue glass. Above, is a large clerestory window, providing illumination to the ticket hall behind. The double height window is formed of slender, tall windows between regularly-spaced concrete mullions, with a short return down each side of the building. The window has a thick concrete lintel on top, and on either side, a London Underground roundel mounted at the base of a tall pole. Above, the frontage is topped with a deep, brick parapet. The bricks have a solider course, unlike the stretcher bond of the the rest of the frontage.
The platforms and tracks are set above the ticket hall concourse and are accessed by a curved staircase. The tracks are carried on a viaduct behind the station. The central section of both the platforms is covered with a cantilevered canopy, providing shelter to waiting passengers. The surviving buildings of the former Hoover Factory complex at Perivale can be seen from the platforms. The station building was awarded Grade II-listed status on 20 July 2011. Posted by Richard Coltman on Saturday, April 6, 2013 - Source : Modernist Britain
Original postcard issued to promote the hotel in 1938
The reality a few years on
The Royal York Hotel was built in 1938 and replaced an earlier Victorian hotel of the same name. The advent of the railway and the pier with regular passenger ferries had made Ryde the gateway to the island and a popular destination for holidaymakers.
Following its opening the Royal York's smart art deco styling and modern facilities would have been the height of fashion. The hotel boasted a modern spiral staircase, lit by a glass skylight and tall curved windows (see the current pictures which are eerily reminiscent of the Midland Hotel in its derelict state). There was a ballroom, with decorative round columns and a segmented glass skylight above the stage. There was also a terraced lounge bar/restaurant, games rooms and 3 floors of bedrooms, the smartest of which were en suite, with balconies looking out onto the Solent.
The stairwell in what appears to be in better times - but those wrought iron panels don't look very Art Deco to me!
By the 1970's the hotels fortunes were on the turn. People were starting to travel abroad more for their holidays and the Royal York probably seemed a bit out of date. A few attempts were made to modernise and refit. This resulted in lots of changes to the fixtures and fittings, which compromised its period styling. In spite of the modernisation work the hotel was still had enough art deco features to justify it being listed in 1998. It also forms part of the Ryde conservation Area. The listing information is interesting as it suggests the staircase is now missing a metal balustrade supported by pairs of female figurines to 1st flight. Another coincidence with the Midland Hotel - missing balustrades seem to be all the rage. By the early 2000s the hotel was only offering limited facilities before finally closing around 2006. Once again echoing the fate of the Midland Hotel.
But has anything happened since this report?
For many, many years, people have been concerned about what is happening to the iconic Royal York Hotel in Ryde. OnTheWight understands that there’s an interesting development that could well be good news and is likely to be welcomed by many in Ryde.
Long negotiation - After a long period of negotiation between the building’s owner and the Isle of Wight council planning department, new plans for the Art Deco-style Listed Building have been submitted to the council’s planning department. The plans, once made public, will show a planning application for a thirty bed hotel and four flats on the site.
Ryde Business Association - OnTheWight spoke to Joseph Kohn, Chair of the Ryde Business Association (RBA), who said, “We welcome the opportunity to support any development that will enhance Ryde. Anything that brings more people to Ryde to conduct business is a good thing.”
I recently found this fabulous image of the Ice Stadium which I remember well from childhood (somewhere I have a picture of myself on the ice) which is now only a distant memory as it, and an equally interesting Boots storage facility across the road from it, were pulled down to make room for the new Ice Arena.
From Architecture Illustrated "The Ice Stadium, Nottingham, Main Entrance Elevation. Reginald W. Cooper A.R.I.B.A. Architect"
"Emphasis is given to the main entrance by the two columns of Derbyshire Stone. The doors are green with handles and kickplates in stainless steel, the lettering is gilt. The walls are faced with soft Indian red-toned bricks, Ruco Ruberoid roof by Messrs. Ruberoid Co., Ltd., London has been used for the roof of the Stadium."
Opening in 1939 was a little unfortunate as the Ice Stadium was quickly requisitioned for the war effort becoming an arsenal storage facility for weaponry consisting of guns, ammunition and bullets produced by the nearby Royal Ordnance Factory. In due time it returned to its original purpose and became home to the Nottingham Panther Ice Hockey Team and where Nottingham's own Torvill and Dean developed and honed their internationally famous skating skills. (Rare You Tube footage here)
The Scala Cinema was demolished in either 2001 or 2008 (details are vague) after long languishing as an unloved annexe of the Co-Op which still stands across the square. It says much for Hucknall that it possessed two cinemas built in the Art Deco/Moderne period. The Byron survives as a structure although it is the less visually pleasing of the art deco architecture style whereas the Scala could at least boast a nodding acquaintance with the more attractive streamline moderne designs.
Image from a postcard provided to the Hucknall Dispatch newspaper by a local reader
What little is known is as follows based on the timeline provided by Torkard History :
1914 - Pilot Palace re-opens as Scala
1930 - Closes to install sound!
1957 - Closes
2008 - Demolished
Location as described on a postcard : Lower left looking up Annesley Road with the old Scala cinema and the Wesleyan Reform Church on the left. Bottom right is the High Street being viewed from Watnall Road junction looking toward the Church on the Market ...
Two examples, from early 1939 of films as shown at the Scala Cinema - there are evening sessions at 6.30pm with doors opening an hour beforehand, two houses on Saturdays at 6pm and 8.15 pm plus matinee performances on Wednesdays and Saturdays. Prices are sixpence, ninepence, a shilling and one and threepence for reserved seats. (New money equivalent : 2½p, 3¾, 5p and 7½p) - Images appeared in the Hucknall Dispatch and reproduced in the Hucknall Torkard Times
A happy memory of the cinema can be found here
Unusual 1930s ship-shaped school building (reminiscent from the front of the Aviator in Sywell) which has been converted into a nursery. Dropped ceilings and child-height porthole windows give suitable scale of space whilst complementing external elevations. Grade II listed. Civic Trust commendation 2000.
This elegant building was designed by the architects to the Borough of Ilford in 1934, although no individual name has been traced. It was built for the teaching of domestic science subjects but, like many of its contemporaries, was abandoned and left to stand empty since 1983.
Apparently this image in the form of a postcard used to be given out to every customer - wish they'd still had them when we visited.
We stayed in this public house some years ago whilst in Penzance (first time in Cornwall for me) to attend my brother-in-law's marriage. He had inherited a house on the cliffs which had its own lighthouse (here's me green with envy) which he was required, by law to maintain! Recently Peter and his wife, Ann, have had to give up the heady extremes of the cliffs and move down to a more stately landlubbers existence leaving the lighthouse behind (too sad!). The rest of the brothers and ourselves had decided to stay in the pub rather than disrupt Peter and Ann before their big day. It was a bit of a squeeze and we did actually have the kids out in the corridors overnight as even with the windows and bedroom doors open it was stifling - the expanded family really was too big for the pub, as it was then, to accommodate. On the second night it was a little easier as some of the other guests had vacated and we were able to spread into the additional accommodation. Even with the easing of personal space the pub, then was basic and the art deco features beyond the facade were not 'loved'. It's good to see the renovation work, at least on the exterior although it looks like a lot more on their website and that of the St. Austell Brewery.
THis shows the pub circa mid-1970s and is included (of course) because of the Classic Mini and Mini Estate on the forecourt!
Even though I have searched in the intervening years, little is available about the provenance of the public house ore- the 1950s. There are some reminiscences by Susan Glasspool (Bottaro) on the BoakandBailey.com blog but nothing earlier. I will have to do further research on both The Yacht Inn and the Jubilee Lido which it overlooks.
The Yacht Pub sign - image property and courtesy of and used with the permission of Susan Glasspool
Excellent aerial shots (and detail) showing the positions of the Yacht Inn, the Jubilee Pool and local Church in proximity to each other - with grateful thanks, once again, to Susan Glasspool for providing the images.
Looking from the Lido out to The Yacht Inn and the Church painted by renowned Cornish Artist Herbert Truman (1883-1957)
First of all - although built in the Art Deco Style - is it Art Deco/Moderne? The timeline says otherwise as the newsreel shows its opening in 1950 and the interiors are dated at 1948. Old plans from the 1930s resurrected because they were just too good to be lost forever? Very little is available - but what is certain - the Terminal was destroyed in 1983 to make way for a car park!
Image of the front of the terminal courtesy of Malcolm Olivers' blog
All the elements of Art Deco / Moderne - perhaps only the bottom image lends some aspects to the 1940s
I found this image a long time ago and was then unable to locate a decent image until just now so, before I lose it again here it is -
From the Daily Telegraph web-site : "White Gables a landmark art deco number built for the head of the Cunard shipping line with four bedrooms, pool and sun room just outside Gerrards Cross in Buckinghamshire, has been a favourite with the makers of the Hercule Poirot television series."
I hope to track down a little more of the history of this place (so do keep coming back to visit) but my fascination with it stems on the fact that it echoes the lines of both the Midland Hotel in Morecambe and its twin the Ocean Hotel in Saltdean. (Both dedicated sections still work in progress). However as it was commissioned for the Cunard family, it would seem sensible, to keep the ocean liner theme going (I still don't see it myself in any of the buildings .....)
Hopefully you can see the same thing as I can - the similarity between the design of all three buildings.
Page updated : 7th February 2017