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NatWest Bank and associated office chambers

A Grade II Listed Building in Ramsgate, Kent

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Coordinates

Latitude: 51.3348 / 51°20'5"N

Longitude: 1.4181 / 1°25'5"E

OS Eastings: 638188

OS Northings: 165068

OS Grid: TR381650

Mapcode National: GBR X0L.CB6

Mapcode Global: VHMCW.JQK4

Plus Code: 9F338CM9+W6

Entry Name: NatWest Bank and associated office chambers

Listing Date: 22 May 2019

Grade: II

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1461895

Location: Ramsgate, Thanet, Kent, CT11

County: Kent

Civil Parish: Ramsgate

Built-Up Area: Ramsgate

Traditional County: Kent

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Kent

Summary


NatWest Bank and associated office chambers, 1910-1911 by Reeve and Reeve of Margate.

Description

NatWest Bank and associated office chambers, 1910-1911 by Reeve and Reeve of Margate.

MATERIALS: red brick laid in an English bond with Portland stone ashlar dressings and a marble plinth under a slate roof.

PLAN: the building occupies the corner of High Street and Hardres Street and comprises the main bank and associated office chambers to the rear, built to an inverted L-plan.

EXTERIOR: the main bank building is in the Wrennaissance style and has a chamfered corner entrance bay and three flanking bays, each with a street frontage. It has a larger ground floor with two further storeys surmounted by a hipped roof, with a prominent chimneystack constructed of red brick. At the ground floor, the corner bay contains a six panelled door with rusticated stone surround and lintel with keystone. Above this is a tripartite lunette window surmounted by a garland decorated keystone, flanked by foliate consoles supporting a frieze and a projecting cornice with dentils, above which is a projecting stone balcony with metal balustrade which has scroll decoration on the central bars and finials at both ends. The dentilled cornice continues between the ground and first floors of the principal elevations. The two storeys above the balcony have rusticated treatment and six-over-six sash windows separated by a cartouche with a central Coat of Arms with portcullis and rosette enclosed with carved fruit with scroll decoration in high relief. The second floor window has scroll mouldings to the surround.
The ground floor of the south-west and south-east elevations have rusticated pilasters framing the four tall metal-framed, multi-light arched windows at ground floor level, which light the banking hall within. Pairs of vertical glazing bars, similar to mullions, are filled with dappled glass and decorative metalwork in a repeating fish pattern. A simple modern window guard is positioned towards the base of each window, broken to accommodate access to the cash machine and deposit box at the south-west elevation. The windows are each crowned by a garland decorated keystone above which rests a modern NatWest fascia. The first and second floors comprise three bays featuring an asymmetrical arrangement of six-over-six sash windows with horns. Those on the second storey have segmental pediments with bead and reel decoration within the architrave along with scrollwork and further swag relief between the second and third bays windows. At the south-east elevation of the main bank building, the central window of the first floor is more elaborately decorated, featuring scrollwork and an open segmental pediment containing an urn-shaped object decorated with swag in the tympanum. The cornice to the projecting eaves has egg and dart motifs and there are stone quoins to each end of the elevations.

The office chambers are attached to the north-east side of the main bank and are of similar but more utilitarian treatment, comprising a marble plinth; the ground floor faced with ashlar stone and exposed red brick to the first and second floors. The three ground floor sash windows have radiating stone heads and black metal frames with iron window guards with scroll work. The first and second floor sash windows have four-over-four or six-over-six panes beneath straight brick heads and, on the second floor only, aprons. The building has a plain eaves cornice, above which rests a slate hipped roof with two brick chimney stacks, except to the north where it drops a storey, accommodating a flat roof. From this extends a monumental chimneystack. The moulded-stone entrance doorway, which would have serviced the clerks, is situated at the northern end of the elevation and has a projecting hood with classical detailing and shoulder windows. A plaque, inscribed with the date of construction, is located centrally above the doorway. A further narrow louvered door is situated to the right.

INTERIOR: the main entrance opens into the double-height banking hall. The ceiling retains two original, octagonal decorative plasterwork mouldings with fruit and foliate relief and an egg and dart cornice. The window architraves are enriched with bead and reel. A memorial plaque hangs on the wall commemorating the members of staff who lost their lives during the Great War. Some original panelling survives on the walls within the main banking hall and more extensively in the primary chamber (most likely the manager’s room) leading from the hall. The panelling in the room is also incorporated into the doorway. Beyond these rooms it is believed that the building, including all upper floors, was largely refitted in the mid -to- late C20.

History

Ramsgate is situated on the east coast of the Isle of Thanet, facing France and the Low Countries. Originating as a fishing village within the medieval parish of St Laurence, Ramsgate’s development from the C16 was driven by the strategic importance of its coastal port. Ramsgate became associated with the Cinque Ports as a limb of Sandwich from the C14. Late C17 trade with Russia and the Baltic resulted in a wave of investment and rebuilding in the town. In 1749 the construction of a harbour of refuge from storms in the North Sea and Channel was approved, and a cross wall and inner basin were completed in 1779 to the design of John Smeaton. Later improvements included a lighthouse of 1794-1795 by Samuel Wyatt and a clock house of 1817 by Wyatt and George Louch. From the mid-C18 Ramsgate became increasingly popular as a seaside resort, its expansion being accelerated by road improvements and faster sea passage offered by hoys, packets and steamers. During the Napoleonic Wars Ramsgate became a busy garrison town and a major port of embarkation. The arrival of the South Eastern Railway’s branch line in 1846 opened up Ramsgate to mass tourism and popular culture, bringing a range of inexpensive, lively resort facilities. New schools, hospitals and services were also built. The thriving town attracted diverse faith communities; Moses Montefiore founded a synagogue and a religious college at East Cliff Lodge, while AWN Pugin St Augustine’s Church and the Grange as part of an intended Catholic community on the West Cliff. Ramsgate remained a popular holiday destination until the advent of cheap foreign travel in the post-war decades. Falling visitor numbers were exacerbated by the decline of the town’s small trades and industries, fishing and boat-building. However, a ferry and hovercraft port and the large marina created in the inner harbour in the 1970s have continued to bring life to the area.

In England, banking was the preserve of goldsmiths up until the late C17. Sir Richard Hoare (1648- 1719) is considered to be the ‘father of the banking profession’ and the Bank of England was established in 1694. During the C18 banks (like warehouses) were private houses with business rooms on the ground floor. Banks were built in great numbers to fuel the economy in the C19. Image and appearance mattered, with outward impressiveness being pursued as the embodiment of reliability, confidence and security. After the financial reforms of the 1840s, banks began to assume a more standard guise: as with exchanges, the common formula for larger banks is a grand entrance leading into a banking hall with offices off to the side. Italianate or Renaissance designs became the favoured idiom, with effort being concentrated on front elevations and public areas, above all the banking hall. Rear areas tend to be much more utilitarian, with increasingly sophisticated strong rooms; employees often lived above banks for security reasons C20 banks retained their prominence on the high street, embodying solidity and respectability. Classical designs gave way to more contextual styles, with neo-Georgian a particular favourite by the 1920s.

Westminster Bank Ltd was established in Southwark in 1836 as Surrey, Kent and Sussex Banking Co. Branches were almost immediately opened in several major towns and cities across the country. The head office was moved to 71 Lombard Street, City of London, in 1837 and in 1839 the bank was renamed London and County Banking Company. From the early 1890s the bank began a long association with architect W. Campbell Jones, who designed many branches in London, Henley-on-Thames and Colchester. When the London and County Bank joined with the Westminster Bank in 1909, he continued to do some work for the new company (now renamed as the London, County and Westminster), and the style of their buildings began to move away from Renaissance towards neo-Georgian, influenced perhaps by AC Blomfield’s work for Barlcays Bank. This transitional style is well evidenced in the branch and associated chambers at 53 High Street, Ramsgate, which was built to designs of local architects, Reeve and Reeve of Margate, in 1910-1911. Presently the company is better known by its modern name, NatWest, a result of the merger with the National Provincial bank in 1968.

Reasons for Listing

The NatWest Bank and associated office chambers, erected in 1910-1911 to the designs of Reeve and Reeve of Margate, is listed at Grade II for the following principal reasons:

Architectural interest:

* a striking building of refined architectural character which, given its relatively small size, achieves an assured presence;
* a nicely detailed composition with sculptural embellishments using Portland stone worked to a high standard of craftsmanship;
* it stands as a good example of a bank of this period exhibiting the transitional ‘Wrennaisance’ style that led towards early neo-Georgian architecture.

Group value:

* with a number of C18, C19 and early C20 Grade II listed buildings in the immediate vicinity, representing a co-location of diverse buildings of different types and dates.

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