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Latitude: 51.5029 / 51°30'10"N
Longitude: -0.1901 / 0°11'24"W
OS Eastings: 525717
OS Northings: 179771
OS Grid: TQ257797
Mapcode National: GBR 1H.HF
Mapcode Global: VHGQY.NHC7
Plus Code: 9C3XGR35+5X
Entry Name: Kensington Fire Station
Listing Date: 27 March 1991
Last Amended: 29 October 2009
Source: Historic England
Source ID: 1265214
English Heritage Legacy ID: 425735
Location: Kensington and Chelsea, London, W8
District: Kensington and Chelsea
Electoral Ward/Division: Campden
Built-Up Area: Kensington and Chelsea
Traditional County: Middlesex
Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Greater London
Church of England Parish: St Mary Abbots with Christ Church and St Philip Kensington
Church of England Diocese: London
OLD COURT PLACE
Kensington Fire Station
(Formerly listed as:
OLD COURT PLACE W8
KENSINGTON FIRE STATION)
Fire station and flats. 1903-4 by HFT Cooper of the Fire Brigade Branch of the London County Council Architect's Section. Refurbished 2006-7 with some internal alterations.
MATERIALS: Portland stone ashlar front; red brick laid in English bond with rubbed red brick and stone dressings; Westmorland slate roof.
PLAN: Deep, flat-roofed frontage block of 3 storeys flanked by single-storey wings, with a 3-bay appliance room to ground floor; central bay has annexe at rear. This block abuts a broader, 5-storey block at the rear, forming a T-plan. Stair at centre of junction between front and rear blocks.
EXTERIOR: Edwardian Baroque style with Arts and Crafts mannerisms. Bold symmetrical stone front with chanelled rustication to lower courses. 3 appliance bays. Central 3-storey bay has a segmental arched appliance bay with rusticated voussoirs, keystone with coat of arms; dedication stone to left dated 21 July 1904. Flanking one-storey bays are square-headed with rusticated voussoirs, keystones and balustraded parapets, central lanterns to roofs. Part-glazed timber doors. Return to E bay has Diocletian windows. Upper floors to central bay have rusticated quoins and central projecting bay, also quoined, with coved returns and recessed sash window. Projecting sill to first floor with heavy brackets. Cornice breaks into segmental arch above top window; blocking course follows shape of bay. The returns of the central bay are stone-faced for a few feet with an oculus to each floor, then red brick; first floor (not visible from street) has narrow windows with tile-creasing heads, set beneath segmental relieving arches; second floor has stone-faced clerestorey of paired mullioned casements with metal glazing bars, beneath stone cornice and brick blocking course.
Taller rear block of 9 bays with central 3 breaking forward to align with lower front block. Slightly recessed multi-pane sashes with exposed boxes, those to outer bays narrower with gauged brick heads and projecting stucco keystones. Stone projecting bracketed cornice; blocking course. Hipped roof with tall slab chimneystacks
Rear elevation has segmental headed windows. Attached iron and timber drill tower.
INTERIOR: W bay of appliance room now subdivided by full-height glazed wall inserted 2006-7, for office use. Appliance room has cast-iron columns supporting upper floors. Glazed lantern to roof. Wall to rear room has a round-headed arched doorway with panelled stable door, and a glazed door with fanlight set in recessed arch. Moulded segmental arch to stair well. Stair with iron balustrade. Original pole houses with timber doors. Upper floors retain some original joinery and fittings including a few simple fireplaces, but generally much modernised.
HISTORY: Fire services in London emerged principally from the need for insurance providers to limit their losses through damage to property in the period after the Great Fire of 1666. Initially, each insurer maintained a separate brigade that only served subscribers until the foundation of an integrated service in 1833, funded by City businesses. In 1866, following an Act of Parliament of the previous year, the first publicly-funded authority charged with saving lives and protecting buildings from fire was founded: the Metropolitan Fire Brigade, initially part of the Metropolitan Board of Works. The earliest MFB fire stations were generally plain brick and few pre-1880 examples survive. In 1880s under the MFB architect Robert Pearsall, fire stations acquired a true architectural identity, most notably in the rich Gothic style typical of Victorian municipal buildings such as Bishopsgate. It was the building boom of the 1890s-1900s however that was to transform fire station architecture and give the Brigade some of its most characterful buildings. In 1889, the fire brigade passed to the newly-formed London County Council, and from 1896 new stations were designed by a group of architects led by Owen Fleming and Charles Canning Winmill, both formerly of the LCC Housing Departmen, who brought the highly-experimental methods which had evolved for designing new social housing to the Fire Brigade Division (as the department was called from 1899), and drew on a huge variety of influences to create unique and commanding stations, each built to a bespoke design and plan. This exciting period in fire station design continued to the outbreak of WWI, although there was some standardisation of design in the period.
Kensington Fire Station replaced an earlier station of 1871 in King Street, which was demolished to make way for the expansion of Barker's Department Store. Fire station designs from other cities across the world were examined to achieve a solution to enable a rapid response without separating men from their families, by accommodating the single men, who crewed the first turn-out, directly above the appliance room, while married quarters were located in the rear block. The station was one of the first to incorporate sliding poles for firemen, a feature copied from American fire-fighting practice.
SOURCES: The New Kensington Fire Station, Fire and Water, July 1905, pp 70-71
Andrew Saint, English Heritage Historian's Report, KC/148
John B Nadal, London's Fire Stations (2006)
REASONS FOR DESIGNATION: Kensington Fire Station is listed for the following principal reasons:
* It is one of the most distinctive, and architecturally ambitious, of a remarkable series of fire stations built by the LCC between 1900-1914, with added interest for its spatial planning;
* The composition, with the projecting stone fire station and flats rising behind, is unusual, disciplined and bold, with good materials and crisp detailing;
* Of historic interest as one of the first stations to employ sliding poles.
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