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22b, 22c and 22d Esplanade and 90 Eldon Street, Firth House, with Boundary Walls and Gatepiers

A Category C Listed Building in Greenock, Inverclyde

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Coordinates

Latitude: 55.9601 / 55°57'36"N

Longitude: -4.7774 / 4°46'38"W

OS Eastings: 226718

OS Northings: 677601

OS Grid: NS267776

Mapcode National: GBR 0C.XDQM

Mapcode Global: WH2M9.LG78

Entry Name: 22b, 22c and 22d Esplanade and 90 Eldon Street, Firth House, with Boundary Walls and Gatepiers

Listing Date: 19 January 2005

Category: C

Source: Historic Scotland

Source ID: 397903

Historic Scotland Designation Reference: LB50050

Building Class: Cultural

Location: Greenock

County: Inverclyde

Electoral Ward: Inverclyde North

Traditional County: Renfrewshire

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Description

1847. 2- and 3-storey, 4-bay, irregular-plan, Tudor gothic marine villa with deep eaves and stepped frontage composed of gabled blocks and 3-storey square-plan tower; principal entrance to side. Tooled sandstone ashlar to principal elevation; squared, coursed sandstone to sides and rear. Base course; eaves course and crenellated parapet to tower. Raised quoin strips; some transomed and mullioned windows; hoodmoulds to principal windows; raised margins to other windows.

NE (PRINCIPAL) ELEVATION: stepped elevation. 3-storey tower to centre: chamfered corner to 2nd floor; 2-leaf timber panelled front door with fanlight in raised architrave at ground; 4-light window at 2nd floor. 2-storey gable adjoining to right with bipartite windows to both floors. 3-storey and attic gable recessed to left of tower with canted window at ground, bipartite window at 2nd floor and small arched window to attic. 2-storey wing recessed to outer left with bipartite window at ground and gabled dormer at 1st floor.

SW (REAR) AND SE ELEVATIONS: 3-storey gabled block orientated NE-SW with tripartite window at 2nd floor of SW gable; irregular fenestration to SE elevation with 2-storey gable advanced to right; timber panelled front door in stop-chamfered architrave to crenellated porch in left re-entrant angle. 2-storey L-plan wing recessed to left of 3-storey block; single storey piend-roofed service wing filling angle. Predominantly non-traditional uPVC windows; some surviving plate glass in timber sash and case windows (see Notes). Some octagonal sandstone chimney stacks with short clay cans. Graded grey slate.

INTERIOR: divided into 3 flats. Half-glazed timber panelled lobby door with stained glass in stop-chamfered ashlar architrave (painted) with rosettes carved into upper corners. Curved stone staircase with cast-iron balusters. Decoratively carved timber chimneypiece in 1st floor drawing room. Some decorative plasterwork.

BOUNDARY WALL AND GATEPIERS: ashlar-coped, squared sandstone boundary wall to NE, SE and SW. Octagonal gatepiers with pyramidal caps to entrance from Eldon Street (SW).

Statement of Interest

This house is currently (2004) divided into 3 properties, numbers 22b (1st floor), 22c (ground floor) and 22d (top floor), Esplanade. Although the principal elevation looks over the Esplanade, the main entrance was originally from Eldon Street, and it therefore also carries the number 90 Eldon Street, although this no longer appears to be in current use. Firth House occupies a prominent position on The Esplanade, and is of considerable importance to the streetscape, as the neighbouring houses are much plainer. The house was built as a 'Marine Villa', and was designed so that the principal rooms take the best advantage of the excellent views of the Clyde and hills beyond. The style of architecture, with its numerous gables, deep eaves and crenellated tower is not uncommon for this type of sea-side villa, but Firth House does seem to be a particularly early example. Craig Ailey, a very influential Marine Villa by Alexander Thomson, is designed along roughly the same lines (multi-gabled with tower), but is 3 years later. It is unfortunate that the architect of Firth House is unknown.

Firth House was evidently designed to have plate glass windows, and this is also of significance. Although the technology for producing plate glass had been available since the 17th century, very high taxes on glass made it uneconomical to produce until 1845 when the tax was removed. To build a house with plate glass windows in 1847 would have been both very expensive and in the fore-front of fashion. It is extremely unfortunate that most of these early plate glass windows have been replaced with uPVC glazing, and the few surviving original sash windows are a very important part of the historic fabric of this house.

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