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Administration Block to the Former General Electrical Company Witton Works

A Grade II Listed Building in Perry Barr, Birmingham

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Latitude: 52.5113 / 52°30'40"N

Longitude: -1.8717 / 1°52'18"W

OS Eastings: 408804

OS Northings: 290389

OS Grid: SP088903

Mapcode National: GBR 36X.CM

Mapcode Global: VH9YX.H4WN

Entry Name: Administration Block to the Former General Electrical Company Witton Works

Listing Date: 1 August 1995

Grade: II

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1234517

English Heritage Legacy ID: 410471

Location: Birmingham, B6

County: Birmingham

Electoral Ward/Division: Perry Barr

Built-Up Area: Birmingham

Traditional County: Warwickshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): West Midlands

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Listing Text

The following building shall be added to list;

SP 09 SE
(east side)
3/10137 Administration Block to the
former GEC Witton Works
Administrative offices, 1920-22 by Wallis, Gilbert and Partners for the General Electrical
Company Ltd. Reinforced concrete frame, with rendered brick cladding and Portland stone
entrance, flat roof hidden behind parapets. Asymmetrical U-shaped block, with principal offices
on first floor of three-storey, 17-bay battered facade. This facade with projecting single-bay
centre-piece and end pavilions, with side wings set back but protruding behind these. A giant
order divides the other windows and is repeated in the architraves of the end pavilions, all set
under a massive cornice with fluted frieze and on high, stepped plinth; the order itself
comprises plain, unmoulded pilasters with tasselled volutes. The attic storey has moulded
architraves with roundels in the corners repeating those of the frieze. All windows small-paned
metal casements. The centrepiece is a richly Egyptian-styled pylon, with engaged lotus
columns, heavy fluted architraves, frieze and pediment set with a writhing snake. Inner
architrave to bronzed and heavily decorated double doors with smaller inset pilasters under
roundel motifs. At each end of this range are similar but simpler battered doors. Left-hand wing
of five bays, right-hand wing of eight bays are very simple. On either side, first-floor glazed
links, which themselves continue the cornice and motifs of the main facade, connect the
administrative building with earlier factories which are not of special architectural intrest.
INTERIOR. Ground floor entrance hallway with fluted Egyptian columns has moulded
ceiling with segmental central oval dome and round light fittings. The segmental pattern of this
ceiling is repeated in the oval sun-ray motif of the patterned terrazzo floors. Two of the four
entrance doors to either side are original, with small-paned inset glazing and top-lights. Two
are of no interest, and the lift has also been renewed; however, the staircase which wraps round
this has some mouldings. The ground-floor offices have moulded architrave surrounds and
toplights to their doors.
The first floor survives completely, with a full set of doors having their carefully-designed,
Egyptian style bronze door furniture. All the offices have battered architrave surrounds to the
doors, moulded picture rail with tasselled ends and cornices. Most spectacular is the reception
room, or board room. This is five internal bays by four in extent, fully panelled with marquetry
inlay, battered, with rounded base and heavy cornice, and architraves repeating the pattern of
the exterior. Even the keyholes are carefully battered. Fitted bookcases an important element in
the composition.
Moulded plaster ceiling, with circular centrepiece between fluted and torchere mouldings.
Staircases at either end of front block with continuous steel balustrades.
Wallis, Gilbert and Partners, ie. Thomas Wallis, were the most noted designers of factory
buildings in the inter-war period. This is the earliest building by the finn discovered in good
condition, with an exceptional interior (notably the board room) of a quality found nowhere
else in their work. The style of the building anticipates that of their famous Hoover Building of
1932-5, but in the quality of the detailing to the entrance and board room this is the more
carefully wrought.
The Architect, 30 June 1922

Listing NGR: SP0880490389

This text is from the original listing, and may not necessarily reflect the current setting of the building.

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