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18-26, Rivington Street

A Grade II Listed Building in Hackney, London

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Coordinates

Latitude: 51.526 / 51°31'33"N

Longitude: -0.0822 / 0°4'56"W

OS Eastings: 533135

OS Northings: 182532

OS Grid: TQ331825

Mapcode National: GBR T7.N4

Mapcode Global: VHGQT.JXC1

Entry Name: 18-26, Rivington Street

Listing Date: 26 February 2008

Grade: II

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1392418

English Heritage Legacy ID: 494343

Location: Hackney, London, EC2A

County: London

District: Hackney

Electoral Ward/Division: Hoxton East & Shoreditch

Built-Up Area: Hackney

Traditional County: Middlesex

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Greater London

Church of England Parish: St Leonard with S Michael, Shoreditch

Church of England Diocese: London

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Listing Text


735/0/10196 RIVINGTON STREET
26-FEB-08 Shoreditch
18-26

II
Terrace of 5 purpose-built workshops, now offices and shops. 1897 with some late-C20 alterations. 3 storeys of stock brick.

EXTERIOR: The distinctive features of the facades are the generous windows for light and ventilation: to each first and second floor is a nearly full-width strip of wooden-framed windows of 4 lights, with a hopper over fixed and opening, the same pattern repeated to the rear. These have bull-nosed engineering brick cills and rolled steel joist lintels. At ground floor is a left hand door, with a pair of large windows to the right; there are some areas of C20 re-working, but 18, 20 and 24 retain their 'shop front' windows with curved frames and slender transoms. There is a charming industrial character to this uniform terrace, and it survives well, with the original function clearly readable. No 16 was originally of the same build date but has had its windows and shop front replaced; it is therefore not included in the listing.

INTERIOR: Not inspected. Noted to have been altered in minor ways for late-C20 uses, but essentially retaining the original character.

HISTORY: This terrace of purpose-built workshops was built in 1897 for a prominent furniture manufacturer, William Ratcliffe, and was originally mirrored by a similar group on the north side of Rivington Street. The terrace was built speculatively and mostly occupied by small businesses. With space rented by the floor, workshops such as these required very little initial capital and so allowed independent craftsmen to earn an often precarious living as subcontractors to the large wholesale dealers of Great Eastern Street and Curtain Road. The Rivington Street workshops were of a relatively high standard, which explains their survival where many of this building type have been demolished or renewed. They are comparable to the three sets of workshops within the Boundary Estate: the Cleeve Workshops (LB Hackney), Marlow Workshops and Sunbury Workshops (both LB Tower Hamlets), dating from the late-1890s and listed Grade II.

In 1899, all the premises were being used by cabinet or chair makers or French polishers and the turnover in tenants was rapid. One of the longer lasting tenants was the cabinet maker Dennis Broughton, who occupied 24 and 26 in 1908 but was gone by 1918. One firm of chairmakers still remained in 1969 but by the end of the C20 all of the buildings had been refurbished as studios or offices with ground-floor shops.

For almost a century, from the mid-C19 to the mid-C20, South Shoreditch was the hub of the British furniture trade. From the 1850s, the burgeoning affluence of the middle classes and the advances in manufacturing processes of the Industrial Revolution created the demand and means to supply speedily-constructed, inexpensive furniture in an unprecedented range of styles to suit all tastes. Before the C19, homes of moderate incomes would have contained humble, hand-crafted furniture but by the mid-century exotic, historicist or avant-garde pieces became inexpensive and widely-available, even if they were not always of the highest quality. Much of the furniture manufactured, sold and supplied to retailers in the West End, provincial cities and throughout the British Empire came from South Shoreditch. As a result, the area has a consistent and unique combination of factories, warehouse and showrooms, a concentration of interrelated building types which creates an idiosyncratic historic character. It remains 'one of the most consistent and distinctive areas of its kind in London', as it was described in the most recent edition of Pevsner's Buildings of England.

REASONS FOR DESIGNATION:
* This range of five workshops is evidence for the continued vitality of small businesses which, rather than being subsumed by the larger factories that were drawing together other elements of the manufacturing process, remained viable enterprises in the context of South Shoreditch and in the broader history of the Industrial Revolution.
* Built by a large-scale furniture manufacturer, their continued presence, and indeed the ongoing demand for such buildings as late as 1897, is of special interest as evidence for the integration of different sized operations.
* The special architectural interest of the buildings is visible with the original function clearly readable in the distinctive facades; the uniformity of the terrace and the consistency of the horizontal windows create a coherent industrial character and identify the small workshops as a single development. The terrace plan emphasises the intensity and inter-dependence of production and the scale represent the modesty of the enterprises.
* The terrace is the most consistent run of small workshops surviving in the South Shoreditch area and an eloquent expression of the continued vitality of small-scale production as a component of industrialisation throughout the C19.

SOURCES: Joanna Smith, Behind the Veneer - South Shoreditch, The Furniture Trade and its Buildings (2006)
Cabinet Maker, 1898; May 1900, p.303.

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

Reasons for Listing

18-26 Rivington Street are five purpose-built workshops, built in 1897 for a prominent furniture manufacturer, William Ratcliffe. They are designated for the following principal reasons:

* special historic interest as evidence for the continued vitality of small businesses despite the development of larger factories which were drawing together different elements of industrial processes;
* the ongoing demand for such buildings as late as 1897 is also of special historic interest as evidence for the integration of different sized operations;
* special architectural interest - the buildings survive well with the original function clearly readable in the distinctive facades and have a coherent industrial character;
* the workshops are equal to those few examples of humble workshops dating from after 1840 which are listed, and are the most consistent run of small workshops surviving in the South Shoreditch area.

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