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Latitude: 52.0274 / 52°1'38"N
Longitude: -0.4962 / 0°29'46"W
OS Eastings: 503273
OS Northings: 237617
OS Grid: TL032376
Mapcode National: GBR G39.TMT
Mapcode Global: VHFQT.C91N
Entry Name: Mid Bedfordshire District Council Offices, Formerly the Ampthill Rural District Council Offices
Listing Date: 27 April 2004
Source: Historic England
Source ID: 1390958
English Heritage Legacy ID: 492597
Location: Ampthill, Central Bedfordshire, MK45
County: Central Bedfordshire
Civil Parish: Ampthill
Built-Up Area: Ampthill
Traditional County: Bedfordshire
Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Bedfordshire
Church of England Parish: Ampthill
Church of England Diocese: St.Albans
600/0/10003 DUNSTABLE STREET
Mid Bedfordshire District Council Offi
ces, formerly the Ampthill Rural Distr
ict Council Offices
Council offices for Ampthill Rural District Council. Designed 1961-4, built 1963-5, formally opened 1967, to the designs of Sir Albert Richardson and E A S Houfe. Brown stock brick with stone bands and window surrounds, tile roof, with copper clad cupola and skylight. Near symmetrical plan with central octagonal council chamber behind central flat-fronted entrance range, with wings of offices to either side behind projecting fronts. Extension to rear not of architectural interest. Three storeys.
Symmetrical main fa?ade defined by stone bands and cornice, with three-bay centre and projecting canted wings each of three bays. Centrepiece surmounted by cupola of timber clad in copper, with clock and Swedish-style ball finial and weathervane. Timber small-pane sashes under gauged brick heads, those to first floor central bays in stone surrounds. The central window here is in fact a door with similar small panes, for it gives on to a balcony set over the slightly projecting ground floor, which has elegant iron balustrade, with delicate spears, roundels and knops. Ceremonial entrance below between stone pilasters, those to either side with simple capitals and the central ones with flash gaps. Varnished timber double doors with glazed panels, brass handles and hand plates under timber toplights. Side elevations similar but simpler and with triparitite windows to first floor, bands of sash windows to narrower top storey; some south elevation windows have been renewed in uPVC. Rear of wings survive, but a new addition has been added to the rear and the original rear elevation is now internal. Lantern over central council chamber, with paired six-light timber windows, projecting timber cornice and copper roof with finials.
Interior. Ceremonial entrance gives on to long, shallow vestibule, with square piers supporting compartmented ceiling with coving between beams. Two central double doors, similar to those externally with brass door handles and three glazed panels, originally led into council chamber. The council chamber was originally double height, and additionally extended into the skylight, so that it was extremely tall, with a public gallery at first-floor level. The chamber has now been filled in at this level, but remains an impressive space, with simple round classical - rather Scandinavian style - mouldings round the base of the skylight, the decorative upper part of giant pilasters to the sides and a niche behind the chairman and council leaders' desk. This area is reached via a double staircase with curved moulded mahogany handrail, Regency style balusters and cyma-moulded treds. Balustrading continued along first-floor landing, which has segmental and scored arched ribsdividing it into bays, a motif repeated on underside of arches over balustrade. On second floor a section of brickwork with windows and gauged brick heads is an external wall made internal where the building was extended c.1970 in accordance with Richardson's wishes.
The rear extension and linking corridors are not of architectural interest.
Sir Albert Richardson was one of the most important, and one of the last, architects to build in a traditional style in the twentieth century. As well as building extensively in London, mainly for the commercial sector, he was Professor of Architecture at the University of London from 1919 until 1946, and restored many of the capital's historic buildings after the war. This is a rare civic building by him, a response to the traditions of the locality in which he made his home in 1919 (and where he engaged in many conservation battles), and one of his few buildings with surviving interiors of interest.
Plans held at Bedfordshire County Record Office, RGH6/44, 88, 89, 126, 185,
Simon Houfe, Sir Albert Richardson, The Professor, Luton, White Crescent Press, 1980
Simon Houfe, Alan Powers, John Wilton-Ely, Sir Albert Richardson 1880-1964, London, RIBA, 1999
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