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Former Blue Bird Toffee Factory: Welfare Building

A Grade II Listed Building in Hunnington, Worcestershire

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Coordinates

Latitude: 52.4305 / 52°25'49"N

Longitude: -2.0518 / 2°3'6"W

OS Eastings: 396575

OS Northings: 281389

OS Grid: SO965813

Mapcode National: GBR 2DS.Q29

Mapcode Global: VH9Z6.D55M

Plus Code: 9C4VCWJX+57

Entry Name: Former Blue Bird Toffee Factory: Welfare Building

Listing Date: 18 October 2019

Grade: II

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1466995

Location: Hunnington, Bromsgrove, Worcestershire, B62

County: Worcestershire

Civil Parish: Hunnington

Built-Up Area: Romsley

Traditional County: Worcestershire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Worcestershire

Summary


The Welfare Building to the factory designed by S N Cooke and built in 1925-7 for Harry Vincent Limited of Birmingham, manufacturers of Blue Bird toffee.

Description

Former factory canteen and assembly rooms of 1925-7 constructed to the designs of S N Cooke for Harry Vincent Limited.

MATERIALS: constructed of red brick, with stone dressings. The north end has a concrete arched-beam roof. The roof is covered in slate and concrete tiles. The interior has glazed tiling to corridors, lobbies and bathrooms, and early-C20 joinery throughout including casements and doors with metal fittings. There are floorboards to the corridors and wood-block to the formal room at the north end. The open arcades to the front have stone-flagged floors.

PLAN: it is constructed on a north-east/ south-west orientation and is of single-storey with a mezzanine level at the north-east end, which is a former stage that has been partitioned from the main hall.

EXTERIOR: the building is set well back from the road behind a lawn. The principal elevation has a central gable with a clock to an open pediment and open arcades to each side under a deep pitched roof with central bell turret. At each end are cross wings with hipped roofs. The elevations have brick pilasters and openings with brick heads and timber casements and doors. The rear elevation has four entrance lobbies of differing plans, and that to the main entrance incorporates washrooms. The left roof slope has seven dormers under pyramidal roofs.

INTERIOR: the main lobby with tiled washrooms to each side leads into the principal arch-braced room (former concert hall) in the north half of the building. This has blank arches to each end and the lower sections of the walls and window ledges are covered in glazed tiles. The arch to the north wall is above the enclosed opening to the stage and has lower-level fitted cupboards that give access to a basement storage area below. Above is a mezzanine level at the north end of the building, formerly the stage. The mezzanine level is accessed via tiled lobbies and stairs to each corner. The former concert hall has late-C20 partitioning forming office and lobby spaces. The southern end of the room has been enclosed and there is further office partitioning of late-C20 towards the central section of the building. The southern half of the building has various rooms and spaces, in part created with glazed partitions. The doors, other joinery and tiling to corridors are all of 1920s date. At the south end of the building is a formal room with picture rails.

History

The factory was designed and built in 1925-7 for Harry Vincent Limited of Birmingham, manufacturers of Blue Bird toffee. The factory scheme was by S N Cooke F.R.I.B.A., of Birmingham, and included a model village (24 of the planned 100 houses were built) village shop with post office, cricket pavilion and other leisure buildings. The modern and hygienic factory design was noted in the Birmingham Gazette in May 1920, as part of an article tracing the swift rise to prominence of manufacturer Harry Vincent. It also remarks on the generous facilities provided for the workers and villagers including a multi-purpose canteen and concert hall building (the Welfare Building) with “large stage, billiards and card rooms, library and many other amenities.”

The Welfare Building is shown as part of the factory on the Ordnance Survey Map of Worcestershire of 1938 (Epoch 4), with the Administration Building (listed at Grade II) to the north east and two warehouse buildings to the west. By 1969 a further warehouse was erected to the rear of the Welfare Building. In the later C20 some alterations and adaptations were made to the Welfare Building.

At the end of the C20 the factory ceased operation and parts of the site have served other uses since that time. In 2019 the buildings were subject to proposals for redevelopment.

Reasons for Listing

The former Welfare Building at Blue Bird Toffee Factory (Harry Vincent Limited), Hunnington, Worcestershire, is listed at Grade II for the following principal reasons:

Architectural Interest:
* the design by prominent Birmingham architect SN Cooke is assured and well-realised, and provides a familiar sense of traditional community architecture in a factory setting. It combines adaptable spaces with good quality construction and materials;
* as a purpose-built structure for combined social and welfare activities on a factory site it is an uncommon survival;
* the concrete-ribbed roof structure above the former concert hall proved an effective and unusual technological achievement for this period;
* it retains high quality fittings and fixtures throughout, including tiled corridors and lobby spaces, and timber fenestration to internal spaces.

Historic Interest:
* the factory and Hunnington Model Village was developed in the spirit of the period: sited in a clean, rural location with good modern transport links and with improved standards of welfare and well being;
* as a regionally significant element of the continuation of model village development, begun nearby at Bournville in the late C19;
* the wealth of facilities once provided in the Welfare Building demonstrate the progressive attitude that underlies the development of the site.

Group Value:
* with the adjacent former Administration Building (listed at Grade II) it forms a legible grouping of the administrative and social focal points of a notable interwar factory at the centre of a new model village;
* the front boundary treatment (listed at Grade II) provides a distinctive and contemporary setting to the building and to the factory site as a whole.

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