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Former Torpedo Works

A Category B Listed Building in Greenock, Inverclyde

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Latitude: 55.9615 / 55°57'41"N

Longitude: -4.7958 / 4°47'44"W

OS Eastings: 225578

OS Northings: 677807

OS Grid: NS255778

Mapcode National: GBR 0B.XGLT

Mapcode Global: WH2M9.9FJ5

Plus Code: 9C7QX663+JM

Entry Name: Former Torpedo Works

Listing Name: Eldon Street, Former Torpedo Works at Fort Matilda Industrial Estate

Listing Date: 29 August 2006

Category: B

Source: Historic Scotland

Source ID: 398866

Historic Scotland Designation Reference: LB50579

Building Class: Cultural

Location: Greenock

County: Inverclyde

Town: Greenock

Electoral Ward: Inverclyde North

Traditional County: Renfrewshire

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1910-12, with later additions and alterations. Two tall single-storey, multi-bay, roughly rectangular factory buildings with gabled roofs and round-arched windows, built as part of Torpedo Works for Royal Navy (see Notes). Buildings set at a slight angle to each other. Coursed, bull-faced red sandstone and artificial stone with ashlar dressings; some brick. Ashlar copes; long and short ashlar quoins and window margins; predominantly round-arched transomed and mullioned windows; prominent tall keystones to most round arches.

BUILDING TO W: long rectangular range composed of 11 adjoining 3- bay gabled sections orientated E-W; 2 gables at S end are probably a later addition, being broader with slightly different window margins. Gables to E elevation all originally the same: wide central entrance with arched tripartite fanlight over; transomed, mullioned round-arched windows flanking to each side; long tripartite window to gablehead. Many windows now bricked up. Gables to W (rear) predominantly fenestrated with 3 round-arched windows and tripartite gablehead window; 2 with central projecting stacks; 3 unfenestrated; some windows bricked up. 6-bay N and S elevations fenestrated with round-arched windows.

BUILDING TO E: irregular-plan building composed of 4 different sections. Large range to NW composed of 13 single-bay, gabled sheds with asymmetrical gables to E and W elevations; snecked red sandstone a to W elevation; red brick with sandstone ashlar dressings to N nd E; large round-arched windows to W (mostly bricked up); discontinuous cill course; irregularly fenestrated 7-bay N elevation with 2 large round-arched openings with scroll-ended hoodmoulds; strip rooflights to N-facing roofs. Large gabled shed orientated N-S adjoining E elevation of NW range; irregularly fenestrated gabled to N with coursed grey false stone; cement-rendered E elevation rises to a number of asymmetric gables similar to those on W elevation. These are the remnant of an earlier building that adjoined this one to E.

Similar gabled shed orientated E-W adjoining NW and E ranges to S; coursed false stone; large arched entrance to W; similar entrance and 3 windows to S. M-gabled red sandstone section orientated E-W advanced from S

elevation of previous section and forming front (road) elevation of building: 5 arched windows to front (S); irregular fenestration to gables (E & W).

Predominantly corrugated iron or asbestos roofs supported on steel trusses.

BOUNDARY WALLS AND GATE PIERS: random rubble boundary wall to road, heightened in false stone with corniced, bull-faced red sandstone gatepiers.

Statement of Interest

Opened 1910-12 as the Royal Naval Torpedo Factory, designed at that time to be the principal centre of Torpedo manufacture in Britain. The factory extended a considerable way to the E, across the area now occupied by Battery Park Avenue. There was also another range of sheds to the W. These 2 buildings are therefore the last surviving examples of a much larger group and are of great historical importance as they formed one of the main centres Torpedo manufacture and development before and during both World Wars. The architectural treatment of the buildings is necessarily simple but of good quality, especially the round-arched openings with their prominent keystones. The use of artificial stone is for also interesting and probably marks a later building period. The buildings have been somewhat altered with many windows blocked and a few later openings created, but on the whole the original design has not been not greatly disturbed. Torpedoes were invented in 1866-8 by a British inventor, Robert Whitehead, who was working in Austria. In 1871 the British Government purchased the right to manufacture torpedoes and in the following year production commenced at Woolwich Arsenal. In 1910 the Navy transferred production to this site in Greenock, making it the main centre for Torpedo construction in Britain, although Whitehead also ran a private company producing Torpedoes for the Navy, near Weymouth. In 1936 another Torpedo Works was opened by the Navy at Alexandria and an Experiment and Design Department was opened at Greenock. It is likely that some of the later buildings at Greenock date from this period. The Greenock factory was closed in 1951 when all production was transferred to Alexandria.

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