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Westminster Fire Station, Westminster

Description: Westminster Fire Station

Grade: II
Date Listed: 1 December 1987
English Heritage Building ID: 209944

OS Grid Reference: TQ2961379158
OS Grid Coordinates: 529613, 179158
Latitude/Longitude: 51.4965, -0.1342

Location: 1 B323, Westminster, London SW1P 2 SW1P 1RZ

Locality: Westminster
County: Greater London
Country: England
Postcode: SW1P 1RZ

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Listing Text

1900/100/21 GREYCOAT PLACE
01-DEC-87 4
Westminster Fire Station

(Formerly listed as:

Fire station and flats. 1906. Built by the Fire Brigade Branch of the London County Council Architects Department. Extension to NE with drill tower added late C20.

MATERIALS: Red brick with fine rubbed, moulded and gauged brick detail; Portland stone ground floor and dressings. Rear elevation in yellow stock brick.

PLAN: Footprint is almost a parallelogram with acute return to W. Ground and first-floor fire station with flats above. 4 storeys plus basement and attic. Pedestrian entrance and stair located at front between the two easternmost appliance bays.

EXTERIOR: Free English Baroque style. Asymmetrical fa├žade comprising (from W-E) 4 and 3 equal bays flanking a broader, off-centre stone-banded bay which is slightly set forward and aligns with the centre bay of the symmetrical 5-bay attic storey. Banded rustication to ground floor, continuing around W return. 3 appliance bays under voussoired and keyed lintels, with off-centre pedestrian entrance to upper floors. Above this, the bays are articulated by giant order of Ionic pilasters with dosserets, terminated by broad stone-banded angle pilasters (that to W return has small first-floor window). Windows are tripartite, coupled or single 8-over-8 timber sashes. First-floor windows set in recessed segmental arches, apart from that to W bay and keyed oculus 2 bays along. Broader off-centre bay has 6-over-6 pane stair windows at mezzanine-level and sub-cornice; keyed oculus to attic. Brick cornice over 3rd floor and stone coped parapet to the attic storey. Irregular roof plan with hipped central part and pitched roofs to W end. Tall stacks with dentilled cornices.

Return to W has 2-storey canted projection with broad voussoired arched window and 2 narrow sash windows above; above this the flank has one window and tall stack to left, surmounted by half gable in form of pediment with modillion cornice; chimneystack has drip mould in form of round pediment. Elevation is then canted round to meet the rear. Rear elevation has continuous railed balconies; windows are segmental-headed triple casements or paired 6-over-9 pane sashes.

The modern brick drill tower and extension to NE are not of special interest.

INTERIOR: Appliance room ceiling carried on steel girders supported on stanchions. Glazed brick walls. Original watch room to rear has glazed brick walls and canted front with square timber panelling. Glazed brick facing to stair well and pole houses. Upper floors (partly inspected) are much altered and therefore of lesser interest.

HISTORY: Fire services in London emerged principally from the need for insurance providers to limit their losses through damage to property in the period after the Great Fire of 1666. Initially, each insurer maintained a separate brigade that only served subscribers until the foundation of an integrated service in 1833, funded by City businesses. In 1866, following an Act of Parliament of the previous year, the first publicly-funded authority charged with saving lives and protecting buildings from fire was founded: the Metropolitan Fire Brigade, initially part of the Metropolitan Board of Works. The earliest MFB fire stations were generally plain brick and few pre-1880 examples survive. In 1880s under the MFB architect Robert Pearsall, fire stations acquired a true architectural identity, most notably in the rich Gothic style typical of Victorian municipal buildings such as Bishopsgate. It was the building boom of the 1890s-1900s however that was to transform fire station architecture and give the Brigade some of its most characterful buildings. In 1889, the fire brigade passed to the newly-formed London County Council, and from 1896 new stations were designed by a group of architects led by Owen Fleming and Charles Canning Winmill, both formerly of the LCC Housing Department, who brought the highly-experimental methods which had evolved for designing new social housing to the Fire Brigade Division (as the department was called from 1899), and drew on a huge variety of influences to create unique and commanding stations, each built to a bespoke design and plan. This exciting period in fire station design continued to the outbreak of WWI, although there was some standardisation of design in the period.

Westminster Fire Station replaced an earlier MFB building of c1876 in Francis Street (demolished).

SOURCES: The New Westminster Fire Station, Fire and Water (July 1906)
John B Nadal, London's Fire Stations (2006)

REASON FOR DESIGNATION: Westminster Fire Station is designated at Grade II for the following principal reasons:
* It belongs to a remarkable series of fire stations built by the LCC between 1896-1914, each executed to a bespoke design, which are widely admired as being among the most accomplished examples of LCC civic architecture of this rich and prolific period;
* Special architectural interest as a handsome and skilful interpretation of the c1700 English Baroque style. It exhibits the quality of materials and detailing which are the hallmarks of LCC design, and is externally virtually intact, with most of its original windows;
* The original watch room, now a rare survival.

This text is a legacy record and has not been updated since the building was originally listed. Details of the building may have changed in the intervening time. You should not rely on this listing as an accurate description of the building.

Source: English Heritage

Listed building text is © Crown Copyright. Reproduced under licence.