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The Albert Ball Memorial Homes, including boundary walls, railings and gateways

A Grade II* Listed Building in Nottingham, City of Nottingham

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Latitude: 52.9466 / 52°56'47"N

Longitude: -1.1783 / 1°10'41"W

OS Eastings: 455313

OS Northings: 339118

OS Grid: SK553391

Mapcode National: GBR LGR.YV

Mapcode Global: WHDGY.W63D

Plus Code: 9C4WWRWC+JM

Entry Name: The Albert Ball Memorial Homes, including boundary walls, railings and gateways

Listing Date: 30 November 1995

Last Amended: 2 May 2017

Grade: II*

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1246781

English Heritage Legacy ID: 455833

Location: Nottingham, NG7

County: City of Nottingham

Electoral Ward/Division: Dunkirk and Lenton

Parish: Non Civil Parish

Built-Up Area: Nottingham

Traditional County: Nottinghamshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Nottinghamshire

Church of England Parish: Lenton

Church of England Diocese: Southwell and Nottingham

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Albert Ball Memorial Homes by Arthur Brewill and Basil Edgar Baily, including the boundary wall, gateways, and railings, erected in 1921 for Alderman Albert Ball in memory of his son Albert Ball.


Albert Ball Memorial Homes designed by Arthur Brewill and Basil Edgar Baily, and erected in 1921 for Alderman Albert Ball in memory of his son, Albert Ball.

Materials: built in red brick with brick and Portland stone dressings, and a hipped, plain-tiled roof with four, brick, ridge stacks. Cast-iron rain hoppers and drain pipes to the front, but some replaced in plastic to the rear.

Plan: built in a curved plan to evoke an aircraft with the two central homes and portico being reminiscent of a cockpit, and the six smaller homes extending out to provide the 'wings'.

Exterior: the homes are in a Renaissance Revival style, of two storeys, with a brick plinth, a first-floor band with moulded wooden eaves cornice and pediment. The main elevation is slightly concave, with a projecting central block. The central block has rusticated quoins and a pitched roof topped with a domed wooden cupola. The cupola bears a sundial to the front with a finial, in the form of a biplane, above. A central, segmental portico, designed to look like a cockpit in plan, has paired Tuscan columns and a lead saucer-dome covering three, half-glazed doors with single windows each side. Above, a large ornate wreathed cartouche with an inscription is flanked by single light windows. The inscription reads 1921/ ERECTED BY ALDERMAN A. BALL JP/AND HIS WIFE/IN MEMORY OF THEIR SON/CAPT. A BALL V.C. DSO (2 BARS) MC. /KILLED IN ACTION/MAY 7TH 1917. Incorporated into the wreath is the Royal Air Force coat of arms, and what appears to be a propeller from an aircraft engine. At this central point, a small light well is cut into the convex profile of the rear wall of the building, providing light into the stairwell of the two central homes and emphasising the ‘cockpit’ in plan.

The windows are mainly three-light glazing bar casements, with contrasting red-brick flat arches. On each side elevation are two keyed oculi at ground-floor level. The side ‘wings’ are symmetrical with, from the centre, pairs of windows, followed then by pairs of half-glazed doors, then two windows, and single doors. Outside the portico the doors have wooden hoods on moulded wooden brackets.

To the rear of the building is an enclosed yard, bounded by a red-brick wall in Flemish bond, with ashlar and reconstituted stone dressings, and with a timber, panelled gate at each end to provide access. The paving is a mixture of concrete slabs to the centre with a border of crazy paving.

Interior: the curved plan-form of the memorial homes creates a tapering plan for the two central properties and those adjoining, north and south, resulting in none of the rooms being square and many having quirky angles or features. Three properties were available for inspection internally; the central pair (numbers 4 and 5) and number 7. The central pair are similar in terms of architectural detailing and slightly larger than the others, having two bedrooms. It is understood these two homes were built for Sergeants and their families, while the others were for lower ranks. This would equate with the higher level of architectural detailing within, the most striking of which is an apsidal end to both the sitting room and the principal bedroom above. Within the apse on the ground floor are three, hard wood two-panelled doors which are expertly curved to fit. The central door leads to the kitchen, one to an in-built cupboard, and the third to the hall and stair. Above, in the principal bedroom, there are two doors, one leading to the landing and stair, the second to an in-built cupboard. On the first-floor landing, the stair well is enclosed with simple but elegant pierced, splat balusters and a moulded hard wood handrail. Throughout the properties inspected, all window furniture, architraves, picture rails, skirtings and doors appear to be original and intact, although internal doors on the ground floor of number 7 are late-C20 replacements. Most fireplaces survive in the bedrooms but all have been boxed in, and in number 7 tiling on the floor of the airing cupboard, at the base of an angled wall, suggests a fireplace was removed, presumably when a bedroom was converted into a bathroom.

All the original fireplaces on the ground floor have been replaced, all kitchens and bathrooms have been updated and secondary unit double glazing has recently (early C21) been installed throughout. All the properties have outside WCs, so it is possible the bathrooms have been created from a former bedroom but this isn’t evident in the central ‘sergeants’ homes.

Subsidiary features: the boundary walls, railings and gateways surrounding the gardens and war memorial are contemporary with the memorial homes. The plain, red brick wall in Flemish bond, with ashlar and reconstituted stone dressings, encloses the triangular memorial garden to the front of the homes. At the western, narrow end of the garden, a concave section of wall frames the war memorial (NHLE 1246782) with rusticated, square, brick piers and a central gateway. The piers with cornice caps are flanked by walls with ramped coping and similar end piers. The central gates of ornate, wrought-iron work provide access to the front of the memorial homes and garden. Enclosing the circular plot of the war memorial, to the front is a wrought-iron spiked railing, with a gate each side, both with open-work piers.


Albert Ball was one of Britain’s most famous First World War fighter pilots, who was described by Manfred von Richthofen, The Red Baron, as ‘by far the best English Flying man’. He was the first man in the war to be awarded three Distinguished Service Orders (DSOs) and within just one year, had amassed 44 confirmed ‘kills’ with another 25 unconfirmed. At the time of his death, aged 20, Albert Ball was Britain's leading fighter pilot. A posthumous Victoria Cross (VC) followed within a month of him being killed. Whilst serving, Albert Ball wrote copious letters to his parents providing a detailed account of his achievements, but also of his personal emotions and concerns relating to the conflict.

Despite his repeated and outstanding bravery, Ball is reported not to have had a hint of malice, feeling sympathy for the German pilots he shot down. In Albert Ball’s biography ‘Britain's Forgotten Fighter Ace: Captain Albert Ball VC,’ (W A Briscoe and H Russell Stannar, republished 2014). David Lloyd George wrote a tribute to him:

“This war has revealed many stirring examples of heroic simplicity, but seldom have I come across so fine a spirit of devotion to freedom, home and country as is reflected in Captain Ball’s letters to his family. In all his fighting record there is no trace of resentment, revenge or cruelty… What he says in one of his letters, 'I hate this game, but it is the only thing one must do just now’, represents, I believe, the conviction of those vast armies who, realising what is at stake, have risked all and endured all that liberty may be saved. I am sure nobody can read these letters without feeling that it is men like Captain Ball who are the true soldiers of British democracy. It is their spirit of fearless activity for the right, in their daily work, which will lead us through victory into a new world in which tyranny and oppression will have no part.”

Albert Ball was born on 14 August 1896 in Lenton Boulevard, Nottingham. One of three children, he was the son of Alderman (later Sir) Albert Ball, a justice of the peace and the Mayor (later Lord Mayor) of Nottingham. After being educated in Nottinghamshire and Lincolnshire, Ball aged just 17, helped by his father, set up his own electrical engineering firm. In September 1914, shortly after the outbreak of the First World War, Ball enlisted in the Nottinghamshire and Derby Regiment (the Sherwood Foresters) and was soon commissioned as a lieutenant, but following private flying lessons, gained his pilot’s wings in January 1916.

Ball’s first victory came in May of the same year when his victim was a German reconnaissance aircraft, and soon he was claiming up to three kills a day. He marked his 20th birthday in August 1916 with promotion to acting captain and, in the same month, transferred to No 60 Squadron. By the end of the month, he had 17 strikes and was the first pilot to become a household name, being mobbed on the streets of Nottingham when he returned home on leave.

After his final victory on 6 May 1917 he wrote, in his last letter to his father: “I do get tired of always living to kill, and am really beginning to feel like a murderer. Shall be so pleased when I have finished.” On the evening of the next day, May 7, Ball was involved in a dogfight in poor weather near Douai, France, including Lothar von Richthofen, the brother of the Red Baron. The result was that his plane crashed to the ground and Ball was killed (although for some time, with no proof of his death, he was listed as missing).

Ball’s parents received his decoration from King George V in an investiture at Buckingham Palace on 21 July 1917. Later, his father bought the field in France where his son had died so that he could always visit it. A memorial headstone was erected in the field in his honour, although his actual grave is at Annoeullin Communal Cemetery, France. He was also awarded the Légion d’Honneur by France and Order of St George (4th Class) by Russia. As recently as 2006, he was one of six recipients of the Victoria Cross to be featured in a special commemorative issue of Royal Mail stamps marking the 150th anniversary of the award. Ball was given the honor of Freeman of the City of Nottingham and he received a rose bowl from the people of Lenton in recognition of his services. A number of Ball's possessions are on display in Nottingham Castle.

The Albert Ball Memorial Homes were built in 1922 in Lenton, Nottingham, in the former grounds of Jasmine Cottage (NHLE 1247136) which from the mid C19 was used as a Methodist meeting house. Alderman Albert Ball commissioned the building for the families of local servicemen killed in action, in memory of his son, Albert Ball. The architect, Arthur Brewill, had served in the 7th Battalion of the Sherwood Foresters with Albert Ball, Brewill having taken over command of the Battalion on 31 July 1915 and it is likely this familiarity contributed to him being selected to build the memorial homes.

Arthur Brewill (1861-1923) studied architecture under Samuel Dutton Walker in Nottingham from 1877-1882 and studied at the Nottingham School of Art in 1882. He became a fellow of the Royal Institute of British Architects on 21 November 1892, and was surveyor to the diocese of Southwell. He worked in partnership with Basil Edgar Baily (1869-1942) from 1894-1922 in Nottingham and was established as an architect of considerable repute, an accolade which is acknowledged in the number of examples of his work included in the National Heritage List for England. Noted examples include Church of Holy Rood, Edwalton (NHLE 1302765, listed at Grade II*); Church of St John the Divine, Colton Bassett (NHLE 1210496) and Church of St Columba (NHLE), both listed at Grade II. In addition to churches Brewill and Baily also designed New Bolsover Model Village, a pit village by the Bolsover Mining Company (comprising 16 separate List entries at Grade II). Some sources also give Brewill & Baily as the architects of the public memorial to Albert Ball at Nottingham Castle, it is possible they were project architects, following Edward Rickards’ untimely death.

The memorial homes opened on 7 September 1922. The memorial, memorial homes, the boundary walls, railings and gateways were first listed in November 1995.

Reasons for Listing

Albert Ball Memorial Homes, including the boundary wall, railings and gateways, by Arthur Brewill and Basil Edgar Baily, erected in 1921 for Alderman Albert Ball, are listed at Grade II* for the following principal reasons:

* Architectural interest: as an architecturally imposing and well-executed example of a work by Brewill and Baily, architects of considerable repute. The plan-form evokes a bi-plane and is a fitting architectural reference to the accomplishment of Albert Ball. Its considerable architectural qualities combine to create more than special interest;

* Historic interest: as a commemoration to, and in honour of Captain Albert Ball, an outstanding fighter pilot and highly decorated individual of the war, and which represents a father’s tribute to the first of Britain’s most famous First World War fighter pilots. Also as an eloquent witness to the tragic impact of world events on the local community, and the sacrifice it made in the conflicts of the C20;

* Group value: as a key element in a wider memorial context, including Lenton War Memorial (also listed at Grade II*) which together form an architectural composition of more than special interest.

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