Head Post Office of 1887 with later additions which are excluded.
Reason for Listing
The Halifax Head Post Office of 1887, by Henry Tanner, is designated at Grade II for the following principal reasons:
* Architectural interest: a good quality and imposing Gothic Revival post office that makes a strong statement well suited to public buildings of this type;
* Internal survival: although the ground floor is altered, a number of original features and plan form survive in the upper floors, including the main stair within the stair tower;
* Historic interest: the Post Office acted as catalyst for the development of the newly laid-out Commercial Street, being one of the first buildings to front the new street;
* Group value: the strong street presence of the Post Office enhances that of nearby listed buildings, including Lloyds Bank opposite and Post Office Chambers and Arcade Royal adjacent to the south.
The Post Office was opened in June 1887, and was designed by Henry Tanner. It replaced an earlier, smaller post office on Cheapside, immediately to the north, and the 1:2500 OS map of 1894 names it as the General Post Office. The building originally consisted of the front range facing Commercial Street, with a covered passage to a rear courtyard; structures to the rear may have been associated but have been replaced. Additional ranges to the rear had been added by the 1930s, and these were used by the telecommunications section of the business. In the early 1980s, British Telecommunications (BT) became a separate business from the Post Office and the building was subdivided, with the Post Office retaining only the front section of the ground floor, part of the basement and a sorting office to the side. Much of the BT part of the building is currently unused.
Head Post Office and BT building, dating to 1887, by Henry Tanner.
MATERIALS: the building is constructed of coursed sandstone with an ashlar plinth, quoins and dressings to the front and first part of the right return up to and including the side entrance. The roof is of grey slate with red ridge tiles. The rear parts of the building are excluded from the listing.
PLAN: the front range, facing west onto Commercial Street, contains the post office part of the building on the ground floor and is rectangular with a spur reaching back on the north side; apart from the spur this is the original building of 1887. Sections to the rear are later additions of the mid-C20 and are excluded from the listing.
EXTERIOR: the roof is steeply pitched and has a number of tall chimneys and, behind the entrance bay, a narrow octagonal spire with an arcaded lantern and leaded roof. The front elevation has two storeys plus attics; there are string courses at each floor. A central wide bay, defined by round shafts topped by pinnacles, projects forward and has a gabled top. The main entrance at the right side of this bay has a modern door set back from a shouldered arch surround with moulded nook-shafts and a traceried overlight in a pointed arch head. A window to the left is similar, and between is a carved shield in a spandrel with a band above with POST OFFICE in Gothic letters. Above are three tall windows with stone transoms and moulded surrounds, and a lobed circular window in the gable with a drip mould. The bay to either side has an arched window to the ground floor and a two light mullioned and transomed window above. The two outer bays, also defined by round shafts rising from a first floor string and topped by pinnacles, each have two arched ground floor windows and a three-light canted oriel to the first floor, with three small arched windows under a drip mould in the attic gable.
The left return (north side) has two bays that are part of the original building. The first has no ground floor windows but a stepped string at window level and a two-light mullioned and transomed window at first floor level. Above is a gablet with a small two-light window. The second, narrower bay is a stair tower and is stepped forward. It has an entrance with steps up to an arched doorway with dripmoulds and blind tracery above the modern door. Above are two floors each with two recessed arched windows, and a third floor rising above the roofline with five narrow openings. There is a corbelled parapet above and a steeply pitched roof of grey slate with a chimney to the side.
Behind (to the left) is a later three storey section of three bays and to the left again is a set-back three storey section with windows of various sizes including a loading door at the first floor to the rear. At the rear is a transverse block which projects for two bays forward of the rest and is three bays deep. This block runs along the rear of the complex. These structures which are later than 1887 are excluded from the listing.
INTERIOR: the Post Office occupies the ground floor front of the building, extending to but not including the stair tower. The main public area occupies most of the full width of the building and is entirely modern. Pursuant to s.1(5A) of the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990 ('the Act') it is declared that the main hall of the ground floor of the Post Office is not of special architectural or historic interest. To the left and behind are offices and store rooms, some with modern partition walls, and stairs leading down to the basement. The side entrance is part of the BT section of the building, which occupies all the upper floors and the ground floor and basement to the rear. The main staircase, with a polished wooden handrail, is original and the upper floors of the 1887 part contain some original features including panelled doors, glazed partitions and one fireplace with a dark marble surround. There are lowered ceilings to the first and attic floors.
The rear areas are later additions and are excluded from the listing.
Listed building text is © Crown Copyright. Reproduced under licence.