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West Norwood Fire Station

A Grade II Listed Building in Lambeth, London

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Latitude: 51.4371 / 51°26'13"N

Longitude: -0.1049 / 0°6'17"W

OS Eastings: 531821

OS Northings: 172606

OS Grid: TQ318726

Mapcode National: GBR GS.86M

Mapcode Global: VHGRD.44DM

Entry Name: West Norwood Fire Station

Listing Date: 25 January 2006

Grade: II

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1392336

English Heritage Legacy ID: 492934

Location: Lambeth, London, SE27

County: London

District: Lambeth

Electoral Ward/Division: Thurlow Park

Built-Up Area: Lambeth

Traditional County: Surrey

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Greater London

Church of England Parish: West Norwood St Luke

Church of England Diocese: Southwark

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Listing Text





Fire station with flats above. Built 1914-15 by London County Council Architects' Department.

MATERIALS: Red brick; Stock brick rear elevation; Portland stone; clay tile roofs.

PLAN: Rectangular main front range with projecting wings to rear; irregular roof plan. Ground-floor fire station with (originally) 3 flats per floor to upper floors, served by rear stair.

EXTERIOR: Restrained Arts and Crafts style. 4 storeys plus attic, with 5 storey set back wing to N projecting into rear yard. Ground floor has 3 appliance bays to N then two narrow transomed windows (glazing replaced), a pedestrian entrance and a further similar window. Above this the façade is virtually symmetrical, of 5 bays with windows arranged 1-2-1-2-1. Projecting outer and central bays with concave returns and parapets breaking through the deep eaves. Windows are 6-over-6 and 4-over-4 pane wooden sashes with red brick gauged flat arches and sides. Return elevation to N has 2 semi-circular windows central 3-storey oriel with curved returns and moulded stone corbel, and irregularly-placed similar windows. Deep hipped tiled roofs; 7 tall hipped dormers. Tall chimneys, some set on end to street. Gabled S return elevation blind and with stone shoulders to chimneystack, which has been rebuilt at top.

Irregular rear elevation has a 2-window projecting wing to N end and a narrower one of 1 window to penultimate bay to S, an end bay of 1 window, plus set-back bay of 1 window. Elevation between these projecting wings has 2 appliance bays with plain surrounds, balconies at 1st to 4th floors, surmounted by a pair of gables with hung tile to apex. Windows mainly paired 4-over-4 light sashes; those to end S bay and S recessed bay segmental headed. On the N side, linked to the projecting wing, is a single-storey flat-roofed recreation room with 3 segmental-headed windows and 6-over-9 sashes. A lavatory block and storage sheds follow (not of special interest). On the S side is the single storey red-brick former wash house, this with raised lantern roof and flat tile arches over sashes.

INTERIOR: Some modernisation for station use but plan largely intact. Appliance room with iron stanchions supporting cross girders. Arched openings between the watch and appliance rooms. Open well staircase with iron balustrade to rear. Interiors of flats have generally been modernised; some modest fittings and joinery survive, but these areas are of limited interest. Recreation room in N rear extension has two-thirds height panelling and arched niches.

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 lead by Owen Fleming and Charles Canning Winmill, both formerly of the LCC Housing Departmen, 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.

The original West Norwood fire station (originally named Norwood) was built 1881-2 at No 2a Norwood High Street (qv), now the South London Theatre. Drawings entitled 'LCC West Norwood FBS' show the 1914-15 building much as it is today, with room for three appliances, watch room, reading room, wash house and services at ground floor, and three flats (one-, two- and three- bedroom at each floor) to each of the floors above.

SOURCES: John B Nadal, London's Fire Stations (2006)
Andrew Saint, 'London's Architecture and the London Fire Brigade, 1866-1938' (Heinz Gallery RIBA, Exhibition Catalogue, 1981)

REASONS FOR DESIGNATION: West Norwood Fire Station is designated at Grade II for the following principal reasons:
* Of special architectural interest as one of 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 achievments of this exceptionally rich and prolific period of LCC civic architecture;
* An elegantly modulated façade in the free Arts and Crafts spirit of earlier stations, tempered with neo-Georgian restraint. it exhibits the quality of materials and attention to detail which are the hallmarks of LCC design; the principal elevations are virtually intact;
* Some internal features of interest, including the panelled recreation room.

This text is from the original listing, and may not necessarily reflect the current setting of the building.

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