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33 to 39 St James' Street, including premises occupied by Kwik Fit

A Grade II Listed Building in King's Lynn, Norfolk

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Coordinates

Latitude: 52.7519 / 52°45'6"N

Longitude: 0.3987 / 0°23'55"E

OS Eastings: 561988

OS Northings: 319840

OS Grid: TF619198

Mapcode National: GBR N3Q.KM2

Mapcode Global: WHJP7.3345

Entry Name: 33 to 39 St James' Street, including premises occupied by Kwik Fit

Listing Date: 7 February 2019

Grade: II

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1459413

Location: King's Lynn and West Norfolk, Norfolk, PE30

County: Norfolk

District: King's Lynn and West Norfolk

Electoral Ward/Division: St Margarets with St Nicholas

Parish: Non Civil Parish

Built-Up Area: King's Lynn

Traditional County: Norfolk

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Norfolk

Summary


The former offices, showroom and warehouse of the Building Material Company (King's Lynn) Limited, built in 1908 by Bardell Brothers of King’s Lynn, possibly to a design by Augustus Frederic Scott of Norwich. It is now (2019) part occupied by a car repair workshop and part vacant.

The adjoining former C19 grammar school building, into which the range fronting St James' Street has been incorporated, is not of special interest and is excluded from the listing.

Description

The former offices, showroom and warehouse of the Building Material Company (King's Lynn) Limited, built in 1908 by Bardell Brothers of King’s Lynn, possibly to a design by Augustus Frederic Scott of Norwich. It is now (2019) part occupied by a car repair workshop and part vacant.

The adjoining former C19 grammar school building, into which the range fronting St James' Street has been incorporated, is not of special interest and is excluded from the listing.

MATERIALS: it has an externally-expressed reinforced-concrete frame with infill panels of either brick, brick with steel-framed clerestory windows or timber- and steel-framed windows, some with shallow aprons.

PLAN: the building is of three storeys and comprises two rectangular blocks, aligned north to south, which overlap at the north-east and south-west corners. The former office and showroom range, which forms the southern range fronting St James’ Street, is of three by five bays, while the former warehouse range, which forms the northern section, is of three by six bays.

In the late C20 the building was internally subdivided to create two retail units. One unit (vacant in 2019) was created out of the former grammar school building (not of special interest) and a section of the former showroom and office, while a second unit was formed by combining the remaining section of the former office and showroom with the former warehouse. The upper floors of the latter range are now (2019) inaccessible due to the removal of the lift and staircase.

EXTERIOR: the building is of a functionalist style with shallow cornices to the upper two floors and a shallow parapet with a moulded flat top. Concrete columns on the south, east and north façades all have ovolo moulded edges with run-out stops.

The St James’ Street elevation of the former office and showroom range is of three bays and, with the adjoining former grammar school building (not of special interest), has its ground floor spanned by a late-C20, timber shopfront. Its centre and left-hand bay have six-light windows with transoms behind iron railings, while the right-hand end bay has a plate glass window. Above is a deep fascia. Photographic evidence shows that the left-hand end bay, which now (2019) accommodates the unit's main doorway, was originally a vehicular entrance.

The two upper floors have timber-framed casement windows of four lights with double transoms to each bay. At first floor level the cornice projects around the concrete columns to give the appearance of capitals while the second floor has a simple fret frieze and a dentilled and bracketed cornice with a faceted soffit. Above, the concrete columns rise through the parapet and are topped by flat, moulded caps.

The right-hand return of the former showroom and office range is of five bays with the concrete columns at ground-floor level being obscured by cement rendered walling and a late-C20, single-storey addition. The first two bays on the upper floors have brick infill panels (now painted) while the remaining three bays all have brick infill panels with steel-framed clerestory windows. The exception to this is the fifth bay on the first floor which has a boarded-up casement window or taking-in door. Rising above this bay is a lift motor room with exposed concrete framing and brick infill panels.

Projecting eastwards from the north end of the former showroom and office range, at the point where the two sections of the 1908 building overlap, is the one-and-a-half bay south wall of the former warehouse range. This has brick infill panels to the upper two floors, with a late-C20 window opening (now boarded) to the first-floor half bay.

Placed in the angle of the two ranges is the late-C20 addition which accommodates the car workshop reception. It is of painted brick with a four-bay east wall containing three uPVC casement windows to the left-hand side of an aluminium-framed doorway. Rising above its left-hand end, obscuring the ground floor of the warehouse’s south wall, is a small section of C19 or earlier brick walling from a now demolished house that stood on the north side of Tower/Cozens Court.

The east façade of the former warehouse range, which overlooks a small car park serving the car repair workshop, is of six bays, with the left-hand end bay being slightly wider than the other five bays. All the ground-floor bays have early-C21 roller shutters beneath a late-C20 fascia which extends round the corner to the Regent Way elevation. The upper-floor windows are all boarded, though photographic evidence shows that all the original steel-framed casement windows survive in situ. The first bay on the second floor has an eight-light casement window with a four-light transom, while the second bay has a taking-in door. The remaining bays all contain six-light casement windows with three-light transoms and shallow aprons. The exception to this is the first and second bays on the first-floor which now have brick infill panels with late-C20 single- and three-light casement windows.

The north face of the former warehouse range, which fronts Regent Way, is of three bays, again with six-light casement windows with three-light transoms (now boarded) to the first and second floors. The concrete framing at ground-floor level is obscured by brick walling (now painted), with an off-centre right doorway to the centre bay and a boarded-up late-C20 shopfront to the third bay.

The west side of the former warehouse range is of five bays with its ground floor obscured by earlier brick walling, including a gabled end wall, against which it was built in 1908. The left-hand end bays to both upper floors have brick infill panels while all the other bays have clerestory windows of which those on the first floor have now been boarded over while those on the second floor have been removed and the openings infilled with brick.

Projecting westwards at the south end of the former warehouse range, at the point where the two sections of the 1908 building overlap, is the one-and-a-half bay north wall of the former office and showroom range. Its ground floor is again obscured by earlier brick walling against which it was built, while the upper-floor clerestory windows have now been removed and the openings bricked up.

The west wall of the former office/showroom range is of five bays with the C19 former grammar school building (not of special interest) adjoining the fourth and fifth bays at the south end. The first bay at ground-floor level has two square window openings (the right-hand opening boarded over) while the second bay has three rectangular window openings (the central opening boarded over), all with steel-framed casements. The clerestory windows to the first three bays of the upper floors have now been removed and the openings bricked up.

INTERIOR: the ground floors of the former office and showroom range and the former grammar school range (not of special interest) have been opened out to create a single, open-plan space. The exposed concrete columns in the 1908 range have ovolo moulded edges with run-out stops.

The ground floor of the former warehouse range and the northern section of the former showroom and office range, has exposed concrete framing throughout with ovolo moulded edges with run-out stops to the columns. The ceiling beams in the former showroom and office range also have ovolo moulded edges with run-out stops while those in the former warehouse range have plain chamfers with run-out stops. The original lift has now been removed but the board marked concrete walls of the lift shaft itself still survive in situ, with the scar of the now removed staircase visible on the shaft’s south wall. Internal access to the late-C20 reception block is by way of aluminium-framed windows set with the north face of the C19 or earlier brick walling from a now demolished house that stood on the north side of Tower/Cozens Court. The floor is concrete throughout.

As internal access to the upper floors has now been removed this area of the building was not inspected. Photographic evidence, however, shows that the concrete framing is exposed throughout.

History

33-39 St James' Street stands on the former site of the King Edward VII Grammar School and comprises a reinforced concrete-framed building of 1908 date along with a former school building of C19 date (the latter not of special interest).

In around 1820 the town's grammar school moved from a school room above the butcher's shambles on Saturday Market Place to a school room at the rear of the school master's house on the north side of St James' Street. A date stone, now reset within the front wall of the school's present building on Gaywood Road, records the rebuilding of the school master's house in 1825. Photographic evidence and the form of the former school building suggest that it dates from the C19, possibly as a later addition to the rebuilt school master's house.

In 1902, William Lancaster, a former pupil, offered to pay for a new school building as long as the Corporation found a suitable site. Land on the south side of Gaywood Road was subsequently provided and the new school premises opened on 5 November 1906. The St James' Street site was subsequently sold to the Building Material Company (King's Lynn) Ltd for £1,210 in 1907. In January 1908 they submitted a plan (now lost) to the Plans Sub-Committee of Lynn Town Council to construct a new warehouse, showroom and offices on the site. When the proposal was discussed at a meeting on 5 February, the Borough Surveyor reported that the walls of the new structure were to be built of reinforced concrete and, although they were shown as not being the thickness required by the Bye-laws, he was of the opinion that the structure would be a substantial one and one that the Corporation ought not to interfere with on account of the material to be used. Although the Committee were informed that they had no power to approve the plans as certain provisions of the Bye-laws were not complied with, it was resolved that ‘the architect be informed accordingly and that should the building be erected in accordance with the plan submitted, the committee would not feel justified under the circumstances in enforcing the Bye-laws in the matter’.

The plan register lists the builder/architect as Mr WA Bardell, the proprietor of both the Building Material Company and Bardell Brothers, a local building contractor, while Pevsner (see SOURCES) has attributed the building to the Norwich-based architect Augustus Frederic Scott (1854-1936). Although Pevsner’s assertion is not supported by any known primary documentary evidence, it is assumed that the listing in the plan register refers to the building’s construction by Bardell Brothers rather than WA Bardell being its architect. As the building does not appear in the 1919 list of works executed under François Hennebique’s (1842-1921) patented ‘Bréton Armé’ system of reinforced-concrete construction, it is presumed to employ an individual proprietary system, possibly devised by Bardell Brothers.

While it is known from historic mapping that the building was erected against existing C19 and possibly earlier structures that stood on its east and west sides, including a row of houses (now demolished) that formed the north side of Tower/Cozens Court, to which it shared a party wall, little is known about the Building Material Company's residency at St James' Street. It is believed to have occupied the site for some 60 years before it was declared insolvent on 21 March 1968.

In the 1970s the building became a car showroom and repair workshop. Photographic evidence shows that it was known as the Citroen Central Garage in 1988.

In the late C20 the buildings were internally subdivided to create two retail units, with one unit being created out of the grammar school building and part of the showroom and office range, while a second unit was formed from the amalgamation of the warehouse range with the remaining section of the former showroom and office range. The upper floors of the latter range are now (2019) inaccessible due to the removal of the lift and staircase.

In 1997/1998 the ground-floor of the retail unit fronting St James' Street was converted into a public house named the Admiral's Tap after Rear Admiral Robert Bloye (1769-1847) who lived in a house on the site. In 1999 the pub closed and the space was converted into a restaurant, which itself closed around 2017. The unit is now (2019) vacant, while the ground-floor of the warehouse range and part of the showroom/office range is occupied by a car servicing and repair company.

Reasons for Listing

The former offices, showroom and warehouse of the Building Material Company (King’s Lynn) Ltd, built in 1908 by Bardell Brothers of King's Lynn, possibly to a design by Augustus Frederic Scott of Norwich, is listed at Grade II for the following principal reasons:

Architectural interest:

* as a rare and early example of a complete concrete-framed building surviving from before the inter-war period;

* it is unusual for its date in that its design forcefully expresses its concrete frame rather than it being hidden behind a brick or render skin;

* as an early, English example of European Functionalism.

Historic interest:

* for its contribution to the early development of the modern movement in England.

Group value:

* it has strong group value with Greyfriars Tower (Scheduled and listed Grade I), and with the other listed buildings on St James' Street, including Nos 1-7, 15-17, 21-27 on the north side and Nos 6-30 on the south side, all Grade II-listed.

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