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Richmond House

A Grade II Listed Building in Nottingham, City of Nottingham

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Coordinates

Latitude: 52.9488 / 52°56'55"N

Longitude: -1.1499 / 1°8'59"W

OS Eastings: 457216

OS Northings: 339385

OS Grid: SK572393

Mapcode National: GBR LPR.52

Mapcode Global: WHDGZ.94PP

Plus Code: 9C4WWVX2+G2

Entry Name: Richmond House

Listing Date: 12 June 2018

Grade: II

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1453035

Location: Nottingham, NG1

County: City of Nottingham

Electoral Ward/Division: Bridge

Parish: Non Civil Parish

Built-Up Area: Nottingham

Traditional County: Nottinghamshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Nottinghamshire

Summary


An Art Deco commercial and industrial building built in 1930 to the designs of George Gordon Hardy.

Description

A commercial and industrial building built in an Art Deco style in 1930 to the designs of George Gordon Hardy.

MATERIALS: comprised of steel frame and rendered and painted concrete or concrete stone to all elevations.

PLAN: the building has four storeys and a full height basement, with a flat roof now with modern asphalt covering. It has a squashed D-shaped footprint with a curved principal elevation. There is a canted corner to the north-west which contains the entrance to the shop floor.

EXTERIOR: the building has a steel frame and the exterior is painted and rendered to all visible elevations. The principal elevation is curved and of 12 bays which are divided by giant pilasters with three palm leafs on each of the capitals. There is a deep frieze above with a band of patarae and further decorated with alternating palm leaves and sceptres. RICHMOND HOUSE is set out in large raised lettering and there is a plain cornice above. The window aprons have a plain rectangular moulding with central roundels. The proportions of the glazing, pilasters and aprons form a distinctive grid pattern. The ground floor retains its original shop fronts with cast decoration with linear mouldings and patarae of similar detailing to the frieze above. The windows on this level are made up of large plate glass panels. The openings which allowed motor vehicles into the interior remain on the north elevation. The main door is located to the south-west corner of the building and the service entrance to the north-east.

The glazing is sliding multi-pane sash windows with 6 panes over 6. The north-east corner has four sets of narrow windows with plain narrow pilasters and tall aprons. These articulate the service areas which are on the landing stages of the service stairs.

INTERIOR: the interior is mainly of painted concrete, with exposed riveted steel beams throughout which form the frame of the building. The exterior pilasters are expressed on the interior of the building, projecting between the windows on each floor. The building was originally open plan on all floors with adjacent main and service staircases to the east side of the building. The services (kitchen and toilets) are located on a landing stage between each floor in the north-east corner and one toilet retains its original door. Some of the floors are now subdivided with stud partitions to form offices and meeting rooms although the ground floor and upper floor remain open plan. The original door-frames remain but not the original doors. The original stair cases and balusters with Art-Deco wave detailing remain in situ. Original granolithic flooring also remains as does the distinctive basement skylight to the main entrance which is tiled in black and white diamond mosaic effect with small glazed blocks. The basement contains steel I-section beams and is lined with brick, including projections that align with the pilasters above, and contains remnants of hoist machinery which are likely to date to its use for motor car sales.

History

Nottingham occupies an important strategic site on the sandstone cliffs which command an ancient crossing point of the River Trent to the south of the town, the site of the present Trent Bridge. There was no apparent Roman occupation but some pre-C9 history is indicated by its Saxon name – Snotingeham, homestead of the Snots. Nottingham was one of the five boroughs of the Danelaw but in 921 it was recovered by the Saxons. The medieval walled town consisted of the French settlement to the west dominated by the royal castle built by William Peveral for William the Conqueror, and the Anglo-Danish settlement to the east dominated by St Mary’s Church with the largest market place in England linking them together. The Trent fostered trade and Nottingham prospered in industry and commerce, chiefly wool-dyeing and cloth-making. The medieval town, according to Leland, ‘was both a large town and welle builded for tymber and plaister’ with thatched roofs.

After the Civil War, two fashionable quarters grew up, one round St Mary’s Church, the other round the rebuilt castle, and by the end of the C17, Nottingham was transformed into an elegant town filled with fine brick townhouses, some with generous gardens. A series of visitors left glowing records of the new town created by this rebuilding. Celia Fiennes in 1694 called it ‘the neatest town I have ever seen’, and Daniel Defoe, thirty years later, said it was ‘one of the most pleasant and beautiful towns in England’. Transformation into an industrial city began in the C18 with the commercial success of the domestic framework-knitting industry, salt-glazed stoneware and brick-making at Mapperley. The population nearly doubled from 28,000 in 1801 to 50,000 in 1830, and the gardens, orchards and other green spaces were gradually built over replacing the once green and pleasant town with a congested industrial one. This was largely caused by the corporation townsmen who were not willing to relinquish common land around the town for development. It was only after the reform of the town council in the 1830s and the eventual passing of a series of Enclosure Acts in the 1840s that land around the town was released to allow for the Victorian expansion to begin in earnest.

After the exodus of large numbers of people to the new suburbs, the lace trade took over the streets round St Mary’s Church for its warehouses, and the area became known as the Lace Market. The 1870s saw a spate of public works, such as Trent Bridge (1871), the first Board School (1874), the first industrial dwellings (1876-77), and University College (1877-81); and in 1877 the borough was extended to include Sneinton, Basford, Bulwell, Radford, and Lenton. Nottingham became a city in 1897 but its population increased most significantly when more of the surrounding villages were incorporated in the 1930s and 1950s. Nottingham suffered little war damage but in 1942 a Reconstruction Committee was appointed to plan post-war development. There were major slum clearances and an inner ring road was constructed which disrupted the old town’s plan.

Richmond House is located on a corner site which bounds Canal Street, Greyfriar Gate and Albion Street. The history of this block, located within the Broadmarsh area of the city, serves as an illustration of Nottingham’s early C19 development. The area is shown as fields on Smith & Wilde’s map of Nottingham of 1820 but, by the time of Stavely & Wood’s map of 1831 (surveyed between 1827 and 1829), the south part of the block had been developed, along with buildings facing Carrington Street. Albion Street and Brewitt’s Yard were in existence by 1831 and were lined with three-storey back-to-back and blind-back houses of a type widely used in central Nottingham. It is visible in a number of Aerofilms photographs of 1932-5; these show it in a process of transition with the post-1913 buildings in place but the houses in Albion Street and Brewitt’s Yard still extant.

Richmond House itself was designed by local architect and developer, George Gordon Hardy. It was built in 1930 on the site of the former Albion Place, (which is itself shown on the 1st Edition Ordnance Survey map (OS) published in 1880 but has already been partly demolished by the 1913 OS map was published). The aerial photography noted above indicates that back to back housing remained on Albion Street after the construction of Richmond House.

The plan for the building (numbered 14821) was submitted on 11 April 1930 and, as with Hardy’s other developments, did not bear the name of an architect. The building looks to have been inspired by contemporary buildings in London and the increased interest in Egyptian style following the discovery of the tomb of Tutankhamen in 1922. Leith House on Gresham Street in London and Union are cited as particular examples which share similar features to Richmond House.

George Gordon Hardy (1872-1951) was a local property developer and architect. He was the son of George Hardy who had founded G. Hardy & Sons, house furnishers, of 65 Carrington Street. Hardy senior, who was from an old Nottingham family, died in 1930 at the age of 85 and had retired by 1912. The furnishing business was carried on by his three sons, George Gordon, Edwin and Charles. George Gordon Hardy evidently became a man of some means, with an address at 6 South Road, The Park, and left almost £90,000 on his death. He became a property developer, submitting applications for two other buildings in the Broadmarsh block: the Shipside’s service depot on Collin Street and Richmond House itself. He was also a Committee Member of the Nottingham Society of Artists and was involved in the development of St Luke's House as their headquarters; although the architect of the building itself was Percy Gill Hardy served on the sub-committee of the Society's Council which oversaw the project.

When completed, Richmond House had commercial use on the ground floor and industrial premises above. The ground-floor shop unit was occupied initially by Hickman Bros. and, from 1932, by H&A Motors (Norwood) Ltd, motor agents; it remained in motor trade use with motor cycle dealers Hooley’s Garage Ltd in occupancy in 1953. The upper floors were occupied by H. Marshall, a ladies' underwear manufacturer. It's use for motor purposes reflects the growing use of the car and also that the nearby Castle Boulevard had the greatest concentration of motor vehicle sales rooms and service facilities in the city.

The building is now leased by a social enterprise and the ground floor is used as a performance space with the upper floors in use as offices and meeting rooms.

Reasons for Listing

Richmond House, built in 1930 and conceived by George Gordon Hardy, is listed at Grade II for the following principal reasons:

Architectural interest:

* as a significant example of Art Deco design, in steel and concrete, making effective use of Egyptian motifs to create a prominent and well-executed composition;
* as evidence of a regional response to a national architectural trend which stands comparison with other listed examples.

Historic interest:

* as an example of Nottingham’s motor and textile industry, which were nationally important at the time, and the significant changes made to this area of the city because of the advent of the motor car.

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