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Company Offices, No. 13 Bath Road, Wallbridge, including railings to canal towpath

A Grade II Listed Building in Stroud, Gloucestershire

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Coordinates

Latitude: 51.7443 / 51°44'39"N

Longitude: -2.2226 / 2°13'21"W

OS Eastings: 384726

OS Northings: 205088

OS Grid: SO847050

Mapcode National: GBR 1MK.NWH

Mapcode Global: VH94Y.FFC5

Plus Code: 9C3VPQVG+PX

Entry Name: Company Offices, No. 13 Bath Road, Wallbridge, including railings to canal towpath

Listing Date: 25 May 1955

Last Amended: 1 November 2011

Grade: II

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1223347

English Heritage Legacy ID: 418734

Location: Stroud, Stroud, Gloucestershire, GL5

County: Gloucestershire

Civil Parish: Stroud

Built-Up Area: Stroud

Traditional County: Gloucestershire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Gloucestershire

Church of England Parish: Uplands All Saints

Church of England Diocese: Gloucester

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Summary


The Company Offices at No. 13 Bath Road, Wallbridge is a canal company headquarters built in 1795/6, with later adaptations. It marks the connection between the Stroudwater Navigation and the Thames and Severn Canal and is one of the few remaining canal buildings on these waterways.

Description

A canal company headquarters formerly incorporating a board room, offices and a clerk's residence, built 1795/6, by William Franklin for the Company of Proprietors of the Stroudwater Navigation.

MATERIALS: the building is constructed from coursed local limestone, with an ashlar façade, quoins and dressings. The north-west flank wall is of red brick. The main roof is covered in clay tile.

PLAN: the building is largely rectangular on plan, with the north corner shortened in line with the adjacent canal towpath, and a projecting wing to the south corner.

EXTERIOR: the building is of two storeys plus attic below a pitched roof. The five-bay façade has a central three-bay section that breaks forward under a steep pediment with an oval window in the typanum. The single-bay wings either side stand under stone parapets with a simple cornice and blocking course, ramping up towards the central pediment. The windows are timber sashes, evenly-spaced, although the opening in the upper right bay is blind. The doorway is left of centre, set above three stone steps, and incorporating rectangular transom light. The lowest step, along with the two cellar windows to the right, is partially concealed by the raised ground level.

The south-east elevation shows the single-storey rear of the south wing, under a pitched roof. The connected main range extends further back, by two bays, and has a C20 fire escape with a timber porch to a first-floor doorway. The rear of the building is rubble stone and the window openings have stone mullions and architraves. The north-west elevation is mainly constructed of brick with sash windows facing the canal, with stone keystones and voussoirs. Late-C18 iron railings line the canal towpath, with urn finials at intervals, set in a low cement wall. The attached buildings to the north-east are later, although they appear to incorporate a late-C18 garden wall.

INTERIOR: the narrow central hallway has a stair with a later balustrade. The principal rooms to either side of the hallway retain some rebated window shutters and other late-C18 joinery. The interior to each floor has been adapted for later uses but retains a number of late-C18/ early-C19 fittings including simple Regency fireplaces, ceiling roses, cornices and further window shutters. The pegged roof structure is visible in the attic floor.

History

The Stroudwater Navigation, built in 1775-9, was designed to link the River Severn at Framilode to Stroud, allowing coal to be brought from Shropshire, Staffordshire and the Forest of Dean to the textile mills of the Stroud valleys. The Thames and Severn Canal, constructed in 1783-9, links with the Stroudwater at Wallbridge, and was designed to run eastwards from Stroud, eventually linking the River Severn to the River Thames at Inglesham, near Lechlade. The Cotswold Canals, as they are also known, were generally successful, though the Thames and Severn in particular suffered serious technical failings which compromised its profitability; despite this, both canals continued in use well into the C20.
The Company Offices is the former headquarters of the Company of Proprietors of the Stroudwater Navigation. The building was constructed at the Stroud end of the canal in 1795/6 by William Franklin, after the opening of the waterway in 1779. An earlier building is shown on a Thames and Severn Canal map of circa 1789 standing close to the site, to the north-east of Wallbridge Basin. The foundations and timberwork were constructed by Company workers under the direction of Franklin, with further work completed by the contractor. The Company Offices are designed in the style of similar buildings on the Thames and Severn Canal at Cricklade and Kempsford.

The Company Offices at No. 13 Bath Road, Wallbridge is shown roughly on its current footprint on the First Edition Ordnance Survey Map of 1885, although a porch projects from the façade. Later editions show single-storey ranges attached to the north, probably incorporating the Clerk's garden wall of 1797. The front porch had been removed by 1936, and the building was used for the administration of the canal until its closure in the mid-C20. In the later C20, the offices were converted to other business use, and were internally subdivided for this purpose.

Reasons for Listing

* Architectural interest: the building is a relatively uncommon surviving example of a canal company headquarters, retaining a quality ashlar façade and dressings and adjoining wrought iron railings;
* Historic interest: as part of the development of the nationally-significant interchange between the Stroudwater Navigation and the Thames and Severn Canal.

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