A vehicle service station dating from 1926, formerly a World War One aircraft hangar.
Reason for Listing
Much Marcle Garage, a World War One aircraft hangar re-used as a service station since 1926 is designated at Grade II, for the following principal reasons:
* Historic Interest: a rare surviving example of a building adapted for use as a service station for freight motor vehicles in the earliest years of the growth of the national road network;
* Constructional Interest: the building is a re-used aircraft hangar of Belfast-truss construction dating from 1917-20, which is in itself increasingly rare
* Intactness as an early motor building: it retains all of the interior features installed to convert it to its new use in 1926.
The building now known as Much Marcle Garage began life as a World War One aircraft hanger, at Aston Down near Minchinhampton in Gloucestershire. The airfield had been constructed in late 1917 as No.1 station for the Australian Flying Corps, and became one of the AFC's main training bases in the UK during the latter part of the conflict. A number of squadrons were stationed at Aston Down during the last two years of the war, and by mid-1918 it housed up to 50 or 60 aircraft, training pilots who replaced those lost and injured in the intense battles the AFC fought over France. At the end of the war, the need for pilot training disappeared and, as the Australians were understandably keen to move home, the training units on the site were disbanded in May and June 1919. In 1920, the airfield was sold off, and the site was gradually cleared, as it reverted to agricultural land in the inter-war years.
In circa 1926, one of the aircraft hangars from Aston Down was purchased by the long-established Westons Cider company of Ledbury, in Herefordshire, and removed to Much Marcle to provide a suitable building for a garage and service station for Westons' new fleet of motor delivery vehicles, which were taking over from the traditional horse-drawn dray. The building was provided with offices to either side of a central entrance to the main elevation, with inserted timber windows, and a large 'GARAGE' sign attached to the roof, together with elaborate wrought-iron brackets for lamps. Petrol pumps were placed on the forecourt and an historic photograph, apparently taken soon after the business was begun, shows Westons' Garage and Service Depot, proudly declaring itself "Officially AA Approved".
Although the business is no longer owned by Westons, since that time, the building has been little altered: a lean-to extension has been added to the west, and the sign has been removed from the roof; the petrol pumps were removed during the later C20; and the signs to the main elevation have been repainted to reflect the changing names of the business. It continues in use as a service station, served well by the inherent flexibility of the original structure.
MATERIALS: the building is constructed with a timber frame clad in corrugated metal. The doors and interior partitions and fittings are in timber, with timber windows.
PLAN: the main, former hangar, building is a simple rectangle on plan, with double doors to the front flanked by small offices. It is orientated NW-SE, and measures approximately 73 feet (22.4m) by 38 feet (11.5m). There is a separate lean-to extension to the south-west side.
EXTERIOR: the building’s main elevation has a segmental arched roof forming a tympanum above central double timber doors, which are flanked by multi-paned timber windows which fill most of the remainder of the elevation. The rear elevation has a similar segmental-arched roof, a wide doorway with a sliding door, and to one side is a multi-paned, horizontal window with closely-set timber mullions. Each of the long sides has square, four-paned timber windows. The south-west side has been extended by the addition of a small lean-to clad to match the main building. The roof carries elaborately-scrolled brackets which were formerly topped by gas lamps.
INTERIOR: the workshop space which occupies most of the building has few features, and is dominated by the lattice construction of the Belfast roof trusses, of which there are six, including those at either end. The exterior cladding is fixed to timber uprights, three to each bay, which are left exposed in the interior. The south-eastern bay houses a central double doorway, flanked by offices which are divided from the workshop by partitions which have flat roofs well below the level of the roof trusses. The office in the southern corner has timber matchboard partitions and a panelled door which opens in two parts. That to the opposite corner has internal partitioning which was originally installed in a railway carriage, with a sliding door to an internal office, and a drop-down hatchway inserted upside-down. The rooms are matchboarded to full height, and across the ceiling.
Source: English Heritage
Listed building text is © Crown Copyright. Reproduced under licence.