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Nos. 42-51 Oaklands

A Grade II Listed Building in Park, Reading

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Coordinates

Latitude: 51.4495 / 51°26'58"N

Longitude: -0.9441 / 0°56'38"W

OS Eastings: 473472

OS Northings: 172807

OS Grid: SU734728

Mapcode National: GBR QTH.0V

Mapcode Global: VHDWT.LT8P

Entry Name: Nos. 42-51 Oaklands

Listing Date: 4 February 2013

Grade: II

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1411952

Location: Reading, RG1

County: Reading

Electoral Ward/Division: Park

Parish: Non Civil Parish

Built-Up Area: Reading

Traditional County: Berkshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Berkshire

Church of England Parish: Reading St Luke

Church of England Diocese: Oxford

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Summary

Block of six maisonettes set over four flats, built 1967 to the designs of Frank Briggs and Peter de Souza of Diamond Redfern and Partners, with landscaping by Sheila Hayward.

Description

MATERIALS
Heavily raked dark brickwork, with horizontal white weatherboarding and bands of black vertical boarding to upper floors; flat roofs.

PLAN
The block is of three storeys and comprises six maisonettes on the upper two floors with four flats below. Each dwelling has its own external doorway on the west side of the block. The flats and maisonettes have varying plans of 2 bedrooms and 2-3 bedrooms respectively.

EXTERIOR
On the west (entrance) side, projecting brick walls form a series of irregularly-shaped yards enclosed by white boarded timber gates. Original front doors are of white-painted timber with two large glazed panels. Windows are centrally-hinged black timber casements, those to the upper floors set in bands of black vertical boarding; the living-room windows are taller, creating a varied pattern of fenestration. On the east (garden) side, the flats have glazed sliding doors with black timber surrounds opening onto semi-enclosed patios.

INTERIORS
Original internal fittings, including built-in cupboards, glazed partitions to living rooms/kitchens and timber handrails to stairs, survive to varying degrees across the estate.

History

This is a private development of unusual character. Oaklands was the name of the large Victorian house previously on the northern part of the site, which with its extensive grounds was developed with the five blocks of flats and maisonettes in 1967. The promoter of the scheme was the house's owner, J A Spurgeon, a descendant of the famous Nonconformist family; one block (Nos. 35-48) was retained for letting to retired Baptist ministers and their families. There are 21 flats and 29 maisonettes in all, with landscaping by Sheila Hayward that retained the lawns and mature trees of the original garden as well as red-brick garden walls and an apple store. Facilities for residents included a laundry block and several rows of garages. The scheme won a Ministry of Housing Award in 1969 and a Civic Trust Award in 1972.

The development model of small groups of houses or flats, designed in a homely yet frankly modern style and set in landscaped grounds, was pioneered by Span Developments Limited in the London suburbs during the 1950s, and afterwards imitated by other developers such as Wates. The firm of Diamond Redfern & Partners specialised in housing work in both the public and private sectors. Much of their work was in Ireland, including the much-admired Castlepark Village development at Kinsale, County Cork.

Reasons for Listing

Nos. 42-51 Oaklands, built in 1967 by Diamond Redfern and Partners, is listed at Grade II for the following principal reasons:
* Architectural quality: an unusually well-planned and crisply-detailed housing scheme, combining frankly modern design with simple, homely materials in the manner of the contemporary Span Estates developments;
* Landscaping: the landscape design by Sheila Hayward, which retains elements of the older gardens, is of high quality and succeeds in tying these overtly contemporary buildings into their leafy Victorian setting;
* Group value: the five listed residential blocks form a clearly defined group.

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