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Latitude: 51.5172 / 51°31'1"N
Longitude: -0.1892 / 0°11'21"W
OS Eastings: 525740
OS Northings: 181360
OS Grid: TQ257813
Mapcode National: GBR 1B.Q9
Mapcode Global: VHGQY.N4V8
Entry Name: Porchester Centre
Listing Date: 28 November 1994
Source: Historic England
Source ID: 1262987
English Heritage Legacy ID: 433581
Location: Westminster, Greater London Authority, W2
District: City of Westminster
Electoral Ward/Division: Bayswater
Built-Up Area: City of Westminster
Traditional County: Middlesex
Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Greater London
Church of England Parish: St Stephen Paddington
Church of England Diocese: London
PORCHESTER ROAD, W2
TQ 2581 SE
1900-/50/10059 Porchester Centre
Public baths and wash-house, 1923-5 by Herbert Shepherd, a local architect for Paddington MB.
Turkish (steam) baths, library and assembly rooms added in 1927-9 by Shepherd and H A
Thomerson. Portland stone and brick with steel frame, slate roofs.
The earlier phase constructed as a First World War memorial, with large and small pools, a
wash-house and a first-floor committee room (now offices). Five-bay frontage to Queensway with
dentiled cornice and set-back three-bay first floor under high cornice and parapet. A symmetrical
composition with rusticated stonework and three bays of paired columns in antis marking steps to
recessed entrance. Two pairs of small windows to either side. All windows of bronzed metal with
glazing bars. Entrance via elaborate memorial gates commemorating Paddington MB to
round-arched doorways with keystone and mahogany double doors set either side ofprojecting
bay window with foundation stone under, all beneath decorated coffered ceiling. These doors
originally provided separate male and female entrances either side of ticket office. First floor with
central Venetian window flanked by two square windows, all under heavy keystones. Separate
entrance to wash-house with glazed brick doorways and original doors reached down private side
road and not now used.
The interior is particularly elaborate fora public baths complex of the 1920s. Entrance hall a
double-height rectangular space decorated with glazed terracotta, teak woodwork, panelled
plasterwork and a marble floor. Against one wall an apsed niche houses a World War I memorial,
with above it tiled spandrels decorated with the arms of the Abbey and City of Westminster who
once owned the land. Stone sculpture of maiden on marble base. Staircase with bronzed,
neo-classical balustrade and teak handrail under glazed dome leads to first-floor, balcony, offices
and committee room. This latter panelled in teak with domed ceiling and fibrous plaster frieze
depicting galleons in a rough sea. First class baths lined in glazed terracotta with decorative swags,
first floor balcony wtih curved balusters and teak handrail; clerestorey in barrel-vaulted ceiling.
Second-class baths have false ceiling; slipper baths also survive.
The later phase fronting Porchester Road has Turkish baths to south (with separate entrance on
corner) and library to north. In the centre a grand stair leads to first floor assembly rooms and other
rooms for hire. A symmetrical composition of nine bays to Porchester Road, with rusticated
stonework. Three storeys. Centre five bays with round windows to second floor. Entrance bay
recessed behind massive shell-hood canopy supported on pilasters; the two bays to either sides with
round-arched first floor windows and ground floor large bronzed margin-light tripartite
top-opening casements intended as shopfronts - but never so used, as space behind incorporated
as hall and reading room instead. High parapet with some balustrading over modillion eaves
cornice. Five-bay elevation of brick and stone to both side returns, the three-bay brick centrepiece
with first-floor round-arched and second-floor circular windows with linked stone mouldings all
done in a manner inspired by Hampton Court. Large sill band over ground floor links the
compositions of all these elevations.
The interior is still more sumptuous. Separate corner entrance with original teak doors, screens and
paybox leads to Turkish baths. Relaxation or'cooling' area on ground floor is square, with
terracotta tiling under coffered ceiling, and central staircase set between square columns which
support a groined plaster vault. Much plaster enrichment. Turkish baths with original marble slabs
not inspected but said to be remarkably unaltered. Original entrance to public library at north end
of site now blocked and the plain interior of the library is now reached via main central entrance,
which retains original teak doors and screens. Ancillary hall reached on left of this entrance. In the
centre, grand staircase of two straight flights leads with broad marble steps, wrought-iron and
bronze balustrading under large glazed dome. This leads to double-height assembly hall on the first
floor, with stage and ancillary serving rooms. Tripartitle coffered ceiling with hefty modillion
plaster decoration and original light fittings. Oak and walnut panelling, the sides treated as two tiers
of arcading. The whole effect exceptionally sumptuous and surviving remarkably preserved.
The complex is recommended for listing as an unusually elaborate complex of public rooms which
survive with little alteration. The Turkish baths complex is now exceptionally rare, and is thought
to be the best surviving example, whilst the hall is an unusually rich example of its date.
The Builder, 30 November 1923; 14 August 1925; 11 October 1929 Greater London Record
Office: GLC/AR/BR/19/4249 and /3291.
Listing NGR: TQ2574081360
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