Former car showroom and garage, now a shop, of 1938-9, designed by John Carrick Stuart Soutar.
Reason for Listing
The Former H A Saunders Garage, Castle Street, Worcester, a car showroom and repair shop of 1938-9, is designated at Grade II for the following principal reasons:
* Architectural: the building is carefully and rationally designed with good detailing to reflect the activity on the site, and also to have a distinctive skyline, which could be read from a distance
* Architect: designed by the noted Scottish architect John Carrick Stuart Soutar
* Intactness: although there have been some losses, including the petrol pumps and their canopy, and the roof covering has been replaced, the building retains the essential elements of its original plan and a good proportion of its fittings.
H A Saunders was a national chain of motor car agents based on Finchley Road, London. The Worcester branch was built on part of the site of the County Gaol which had been designed by Francis Sandys and built 1809-1813, but demolished in the later C19. Its castellated appearance led to the naming of the street.
The showroom and garage was designed by the architect John C S Soutar, and built in 1938-9. Drawings in the possession of Worcester City Council show that the external appearance of the building, especially that of the tower, was the subject of a series of different designs, before the present form was chosen. The building was initially known as Austin House and built with a car showroom to the east and a repair shop to the west. An addition was planned from the first and added to the north after the Second World War, but later demolished. The building was adapted to its current use as a shop in the later C20.
PLAN: Single and two-storeyed. To the centre of the Castle Street frontage is a square clock tower with an octagonal cupola to the top whose copper roof has a concave profile.
MATERIALS: The building is of red bricks laid in Flemish bond with a factory roof with northern lights and corrugated metal covering.
EXTERIOR: The principal front to Castle Street has low blocks set at either side of the tower. That to the right projects slightly and is fronted by a colonnade with square brick columns. The plain brick parapet above this has stone obelisks to the corners. The tower has windows to its lower three storeys, which are metal framed, of the ‘Crittal’ type. These are a wide, three-light window to the ground floor, with clusters of three, single casements to both the first and second floors. A similar grouping of windows is on the west flank of the tower. The body of the tower gradually tapers as it rises and there are clock faces to each of the four fronts. There is a coat of arms carved on a stone below the western clock face and a plain stone coping to the top of the tower wall. Above this is a metal handrail and there are three flagpoles which rise above the southern front. The cupola has angled pillars which rise to a plain parapet, with a simple entablature divided by projecting bands. Recessed above this is the concave, copper roof which has a sceptre finial. To the left of the tower the walling is recessed, with a shutter door to the far left. Horizontal bands of windows on both the ground and first floors at the centre of this block have replaced fenestration, and there is similar fenestration to the ground floor window at right, which appears to be an adaptation of an additional garage door. A pedestrian doorway to right of centre has a half-glazed door and a fanlight which has tapered sides. There is a plain parapet above this section, with a stone obelisk to the left hand corner, as before.
INTERIOR: There are two, generous, uninterrupted spaces, set to either side of the tower, that to the east being at a higher level. A ramp with metal handrail leads upwards from the workshop at west to the eastern showroom. The former workshop area has two walled-off areas at its south-eastern corner, one of which appears to be original and the other, which has late-C20 breeze-block walls, forms a loading bay for the furnishing store. There is also an original inspection pit, approached by stairs at either side which has been converted to storage. The wall between the two parts of the building has a glazed screen. The showroom to the east is divided into two levels. A short, central staircase has a decorative metal balustrade with brass handrail which ends in wreathed curtails at the foot of the stairs. This balustrade continues along the front of the raised stage. Hardwood surrounds to the plate glass showroom windows and the central swing doors appear to be original. The tower houses an office at ground floor level and lavatories to the two upper floors. A platform above these supports the original cased, clock mechanism which remains in situ, although superseded by a later electric mechanism.
Source: English Heritage
Listed building text is © Crown Copyright. Reproduced under licence.