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Gatehouse and Adjoining Office Buildings at Soho Foundry

A Grade II Listed Building in Smethwick, Sandwell

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Coordinates

Latitude: 52.4972 / 52°29'50"N

Longitude: -1.9476 / 1°56'51"W

OS Eastings: 403655

OS Northings: 288816

OS Grid: SP036888

Mapcode National: GBR 5N2.VP

Mapcode Global: VH9YW.6H7G

Entry Name: Gatehouse and Adjoining Office Buildings at Soho Foundry

Listing Date: 30 October 2008

Grade: II

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1392993

English Heritage Legacy ID: 505339

Location: Sandwell, B66

County: Sandwell

Electoral Ward/Division: Soho and Victoria

Built-Up Area: Smethwick

Traditional County: Staffordshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): West Midlands

Church of England Parish: Smethwick The Resurrection

Church of England Diocese: Birmingham

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Listing Text

SMETHWICK

1868/0/10089 FOUNDRY LANE
30-OCT-08 Gatehouse and Adjoining Office Buildin
gs at Soho Foundry

GV II
A gatehouse and office building designed by Buckland and Heywood for the Avery Company and built in 1925. The building is of red brick, laid in Flemish bond with stone dressings and concrete columns. There is a shallow, pantiled roof over the porch and a flat roof to the office range, behind the parapet.

EXTERIOR: The east front onto Foundry Road has a portico, of painted concrete, and has three bays, of which the central is widest. There are two octagonal pillars with pilasters in antis. All have simple moulded capitals and block bases and there is an entablature above. The wall behind has brick pilasters. To the centre is a cambered arch, above which is the lettering `SOHO FOUNDRY' and at either side the bays have metal-framed windows and between the floors are tablets inscribed with the name `AVERY' and the trade mark which shows the central pivot point of a weighing arm. Inset bands of pantiles are also used for decorative effect. To left of this is a single bay connecting the gate range to an earlier office building of the 1890s. To the right of the gateway are seven bays of the office block which has pilaster buttresses with chamfered angles and two light windows with a central moulded mullion and a thin stone surround. To the basement are paired lights with cambered heads. The north side has three slit windows to each floor. This and the rear, west side have a full basement which is exposed due to the fall in the land. The west side of the gateway has a trio of basket arched entrances, above which are metal-framed windows. Projecting at left of the gateway is the south side of the office block which has two bays divided by pilaster buttresses, as on the eastern front. Adjoined at left of this is the Smethwick Office Row (Grade II), including the former house of William Murdock. In front of the west front of the gateway is a large weighbridge, with metal surface marked `AVERY / BIRMINGHAM - ENGLAND'

INTERIOR: To the ground floor is a central passageway with glazed screen walls to the offices at either side. The staircases have simple stick balusters and square newels with panelled sides. One sizeable ground floor room in the office block, to the north of the gateway, has a ceiling whose cornice incorporates the motif which appears as the Avery trademark - a triangular balancing point at the centre of a beam weight. Also in the room is a mural frieze, depicting the opening of the Soho Foundry. This shows people in C18 dress. At the centre is an inscription `OPENING CEREMONY AT SOHO FOUNDRY BY MATTHEW BOULTON / 30 JANUARY 1796' and underneath is the inscription `I COME NOW AS THE FATHER OF SOHO TO CONSECRATE THIS PLACE AS ONE OF ITS BRANCHES. I ALSO COME TO GIVE IT A NAME AND MY BENEDICTION. I WILL, THEREFORE, PROCEED TO PURIFY THE WALLS OF IT BY THE SPRINKLING OF WINE, AND IN THE NAME OF VULCAN AND ALL THE GODS AND GODDESSES OF FIRE AND WATER I PRONOUNCE THE NAME OF IT SOHO FOUNDRY. MAY THAT NAME ENDURE FOR EVER AND EVER AND LET ALL THE PEOPLE SAY AMEN'
Attached to the west is the Smethwick Office Row of former cottages, including the house of William Murdock which is designated at Grade II. Also attached, to the south, is an earlier single-storey office block of c. 1890s which is not included as part of this item.

REASONS FOR DESIGNATION: The Gatehouse and adjoining Office Buildings at Soho Foundry are listed grade II for the following principal reasons:

* The building has strong architectural presence and was designed by the acknowledged Birmingham practice of Buckland and Haywood.
* It celebrates the illustrious manufacturing history of the site.
* It sits well with the other buildings on the site, in particular the Smethwick Office Row (Grade II) to which it is attached.

SOURCES: Andy Foster, Birmingham, Pevsner Architectural Guides, 2005; P.Belford, G.Demidowicz and M.Hislop, An Historic Environment Assessment of the Soho Foundry, 2003.

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

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