Health centre and school clinic, 1939-40 for the Borough of Wallsend, believed to be designed by John Blench, Borough Surveyor; builders and contractors were Thos. Clements and Sons Ltd of Newcastle upon Tyne.
Reason for Listing
Wallsend Health Centre designed in the late 1930s for Wallsend Borough Council is Listed at Grade II for the following principal reasons:
* Historic: it has significant socio-historic interest in representing regional political will for improved public health and welfare provision during the 1930s, almost a decade before the creation of the National Health Service.
* Design: the building's plan form, and the incorporation of large windows to all areas, maximises light and air within the building, which echoes the design principles of the best inter-war health centres nationally;
* Architectural: the building is a well-detailed and symmetrical design in a modernist style incorporating Art Deco elements both externally and internally;
* Survival: it is well-preserved both externally and internally, and the original layout of the building remains largely intact and readable;
Wallsend Health Centre and School Clinic was designed in the late 1930s for Wallsend Borough. The Borough surveyor was John Blench and the builder and contractor was Thos. Clements and Sons of Newcastle upon Tyne. The building cost £22,000 to construct and it was officially opened on Saturday 21st December 1940 by the Mayor, Alderman John Mason. It is described in a contemporary newspaper article as 'Wallsend School Clinic and Maternity and Child Welfare Centre'. The Medical Officer of Health, Dr R Rutherford, who also attended the opening ceremony said that after working in bad conditions for more than 20 years they had now one of the finest and best-equipped clinics in the country. Buildings such as these, would generally have accommodation for a central waiting hall, ante-natal department, sunlight rooms, school clinic, child welfare services, nurses rooms and isolation room and various other rooms and offices; there may also be an external pram shelter. Later accounts of the building report that it was known locally as the `Sunray Clinic` as a consequence of the treatment used for the prevention of rickets. Following the introduction of the National Health Service in 1948, the centre was handed over to the County Council, the new Local Health Authority. It remains in use by Newcastle PCT.
MATERIALS: steel frame clad in mellow brown brick laid in stretcher bond with prominent white pointing. Portland stone dressings and steel window frames. Art Deco style.
PLAN: rectangular block to the front comprising a double height hall probably a waiting room, with single storey ranges to three sides and east and west entrances; the latter with a loggia. Rear west and east ranges are linked at the north end by a formerly open-sided covered walkway forming a central open quadrangle, now partially infilled with later C20 extensions that are not of special interest.
EXTERIOR: all elevations have a horizontal and vertically banded brick plinth and an eaves band of vertical brick, and smaller windows have vertical brick heads. There are Portland stone sills, upper bands and original rain water goods with square ornate heads. Windows mostly retain their original steel-frames with thin horizontal glazing bars, many of which have margin lights.
South (main) elevation has a central double height block, with a flat roof obscured by a brick parapet with a raised and stepped centre of stone, bearing the inscription BOROUGH/ OF/WALLSEND/HEALTH/CENTRE. Immediately below this a rectangular recess edged in brick bears a hexagonal date stone reading A D/1940 and the base for a former fitting, possibly a sundial. There are five large steel-framed windows in the upper level with broad heads of vertical brick alternating with engaged circular columns, each of the latter with a brick cap. Set to the front of the double height block is a flat-roofed single storey range; the central section has a large window flanked by slightly smaller windows, alternating with narrow brick sections having the appearance of pilasters. To either side are slightly set-back bays with a large window and paired narrow windows. Each end bay has a narrow window flanking a slightly projecting section with paired windows and a raised stone parapet incorporating fluted motifs.
West elevation: the double height block has similar detailing to the south elevation but without the stepped stone parapet, the hexagonal recess is blind, and there are three windows alternating with engaged round columns. There is a similar flat-roofed single storey range to the front with a central entrance flanked by two large windows; the stone entrance is flanked by short engaged round columns with fluted caps and it retains original heavy-panelled timber doors with steel-framed overlights with herringbone glazing bar patterns. Attached is a seven bay loggia (now enclosed with railings) formed by hexagonal brick and tile columns supporting a narrow tiled roofed structure (possibly a pram shelter); its central bay is flanked by clustered columns bearing a stepped parapet above, which formerly carried a bronze sign, now removed. Attached to the left is the single story west rear range pierced by a variety of large windows.
East elevation: the double height block is similar in form and detail to the west elevation and the lower flat-roofed single-storey range attached to the front has a central entrance identical in detail to that of the west, but the doors are replacements. To the left is a plain section with large and narrow windows, and to the right is the east rear range pierced by a variety of window sizes.
Rear elevation: plain with windows of varying size and form, and evidence of some rebuilding of the parapet. The formerly open linking covered walkway has a central entrance and inserted glazing.
The west and east entrances open into vestibules, which retain some of the original decorative scheme in the form of plain banding forming large panels. The west vestibule has the founding board attached to its east wall. Both entrances have prominent, slightly stepped door cases with original bands and beading forming large panels to their sides; the upper part of the east entrance is obscured by a suspended ceiling and the upper part of the west entrance is truncated. The double height hall, probably a waiting room, was formerly open to the north and south with arcades of hexagonal columns with fluted caps on these sides. This has been partitioned, and the eastern part has inserted suspended ceilings and its former arcades have been infilled but the hexagonal columns with fluted caps are incorporated in the infill and remain visible from their respective flanking corridors. The western part of the double height hall remains full height and its steel beamed ceiling with geometric ventilator is visible as are large windows lighting the interior; the ground floor has low, single storey partitions. Its formerly open south side has been infilled also incorporating the columns, but its north side retains the original arcade. The corridor to the south of the waiting area has a suspended ceiling and applied bands to the walls creating large panels, and all original rooms to the south of this have stepped door heads. While there are some replacement doors, there are many surviving original doors and architraves, some with circular lights and original door stops. The rear ranges are plain and each has a set of original double glazed doors giving access to the central courtyard.
Listed building text is © Crown Copyright. Reproduced under licence.