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Former Clerkenwell Fire Station

A Grade II Listed Building in Clerkenwell, London

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Latitude: 51.5246 / 51°31'28"N

Longitude: -0.1104 / 0°6'37"W

OS Eastings: 531182

OS Northings: 182326

OS Grid: TQ311823

Mapcode National: GBR M7.CM

Mapcode Global: VHGQT.1YG3

Entry Name: Former Clerkenwell Fire Station

Listing Date: 16 June 1988

Last Amended: 27 October 2009

Grade: II

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1293142

English Heritage Legacy ID: 369252

Location: Islington, London, EC1R

County: London

District: Islington

Electoral Ward/Division: Clerkenwell

Built-Up Area: Islington

Traditional County: Middlesex

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Greater London

Church of England Parish: St James Clerkenwell

Church of England Diocese: London

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Listing Text

This list entry was subject to a Minor Amendment on 15/06/2017


42-44, Former Clerkenwell Fire Station

(Formerly listed as Clerkenwell Fire Station, previously listed as: ROSEBERY AVENUE, 42 AND 44, LONDON CITY COUNCIL FIRE BRIGADE STATION)


Former fire station with flats above. Built 1912-1917 to the design of HFT Cooper of the Fire Brigade Branch of the London County Council Architects' Department.

MATERIALS: Red brick laid in English bond; Portland stone. Rear elevation in yellow stock brick. Clay tile roof.

PLAN: Long main SW frontage to Rosebery Avenue with acute NE return into Farringdon Road. Plan originally comprised ground-floor fire station with flats above.

EXTERIOR: Restrained Arts and Crafts style. Four storeys plus attic and roof storey. Channelled stone rustication to ground floor. Main modillion stone cornice above third floor; subsidiary cornice to attic storey. Steeply pitched roofs. Tall slab stacks with moulded caps; stacks to return joined at 90 degrees. Arts and Crafts detailing, especially to keystones to square-headed ground-floor openings and to attic and roof storeys.

Principal (SW) elevation to Rosebery Avenue has six bays to ground floor, with four appliance bays to centre and right, and pair of broad tripartite windows to left (glazing replaced) with moulded cornices and plain stone recessed panels below. Timber appliance bay doors are modern. Above, the elevation is symmetrical, of eight principal bays arranged 3-2-3, with windows grouped in triplets to central two bays, and pairs to outer bays, with exception of central first-floor windows which are triple windows with lintels and relieving arches. Outer bays to either side have full attic storey above main cornice and roof storey above, while central bays have two storeys within the roof. Small-pane sashes; flush frames to outer bays. Some segmental and some square-headed sashes. First-floor windows to central bays have recessed stone architraves. Roof has two triple flat-topped dormers with projecting eaves and brackets to centre block above main cornice, while full attic storeys to either side each have a central recessed balcony with central pier and iron railings, flanked by tripartite sash windows. Nine tall, hipped 9-over-9 sashed dormers to roof; those to outer bays have balconets with square-pattern ironwork. LCC metal coat-of-arms to first-floor centre bay with gold lettering on blue reading: 'Clerkenwell Fire Station' above coat-of-arms and 'London County Council' below.

Shorter, assymetrical elevation to Farringdon Road breaks forward from return into Rosebery Avenue. Appliance bay to left, and an entrance flanked by two windows (glazing replaced). Fenestration and detailing similar to that of outer bays of main elevation, with eight windows to first floor and nine to second and third, and recessed balconies to attic alternated with triple sashes. The three bays to the return are surmounted by a triangular gable with a window set in moulded reveals with dentilled cornice; small hexagonal oculus to apex. Balconied dormers same as front.

Rear elevation has railed balcony to each floor. Sash windows. Reset foundation stone dated 1872 presumably form earlier fire station on site. Drill tower to rear yard is not of special interest.

INTERIOR: Appliance room ceiling carried on steel girders supported on stanchions. Main stair with iron balustrade. Upper floors generally much altered, but retain some joinery, panelled dados and a simple fireplaces. The top floor has a communal washroom with obsolete washing and drying equipment.

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.

The first Clerkenwell fire station, which stood on the same corner site, was built in 1871-3, probably designed by Edward Cresy architect to the MFB. By 1890, Clerkenwell had become the superintendent's station for the central district, one of the most important in London, and was extended on the SW side in 1895-7 in a Flemish style to the design of Robert Pearsall for the LCC Fire Brigade Branch. This soon became inadequate, and a further extension on the SW side was added 1912-14 to the design of HFT Cooper, but the decision was soon taken to rebuild the older parts to form a single unified design incorporating the new extension; this was completed in 1917. Quarters for the superintendent were provided on the second floor, and for married men on the upper floors.

SOURCES: John B Nadal, London's Fire Stations, 2006, pp 126-7
English Heritage, Survey of London, Vol 47: Northern Clerkenwell and Pentonville, pp 29 and 137
Andrew Saint, 'London's Architecture and the London Fire Brigade, 1866-1938' (Heinz Gallery RIBA, Exhibition Catalogue, 1981)

REASON FOR DESIGNATION: Former Clerkenwell Fire Station is designated at Grade II for the following principal reasons:
* It ranks among some of the best examples of a remarkable group of fire stations built by the LCC between 1900-1914, which are widely admired as being the among the most accomplished civic buildings produced by the renowned LCC Architects' Division in this rich and prolific period;
* The elevations and massing are well-composed, responding well to the prominent corner site;
* It exhibits the quality of materials and attention to detail which are the hallmarks of LCC design, and is virtually intact externally.

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

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