History in Structure

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Former Willans & Robinson Factory, West Block

A Grade II Listed Building in Sandycroft, Flintshire

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Coordinates

Latitude: 53.2054 / 53°12'19"N

Longitude: -3.0119 / 3°0'42"W

OS Eastings: 332510

OS Northings: 368065

OS Grid: SJ325680

Mapcode National: GBR 75.20WS

Mapcode Global: WH885.PPZK

Entry Name: Former Willans & Robinson Factory, West Block

Listing Date: 11 August 2005

Last Amended: 11 August 2005

Grade: II

Source: Cadw

Source ID: 85240

Location: Located on the industrial estate between Queensferry and Sandycroft, between Factory Road and the River Dee. Factory Road is reached off Chester Road (East) and Chemistry Lane.

County: Flintshire

Community: Queensferry

Community: Queensferry

Built-Up Area: Sandycroft

Traditional County: Flintshire

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History

Factory of c1901 by H. B. Cresswell, for Willans & Robinson, manufacturers of water-tube boilers and specialist steels, such as vanadium steel. A photograph of 1899 shows it under construction, with scaffolding to the front facade. It was a pioneering example of a factory built on Modernist principles, Nikolaus Pevsner describing it as 'the most advanced British building of its date'. It was designed so that the structural components and detail related to the processes within: The 3 buildings were flat-topped as gantries were housed on the roof, requiring support from buttresses which also formed the bay divisions; a dentilled brick course above the window bands provided ventilation. There was originally a tower, now truncated, which housed hydraulic accumulators. Sadly, the factory was not a financial success and closed in 1910, though Willans & Robinson Ltd continued in Rugby until the 1920s. The works was disused when the First World War broke out in 1914, and it was requisitioned as a prisoner of war camp. The German prisoners left for the Isle of Man in May 1915, and the works became a munitions factory, mainly producing explosives such as guncotton. A local report stated 'very soon the interiors of the existing structure took on an entirely new aspect'. It remained an explosives factory well into the C20. Alterations to the buildings took place, such as the removal of parts of the parapets and the addition of gabled roofs, as there was no longer a requirement for overhead gantries. Although the original factory has been compromised, it was designed for a use which was short-lived, and these alterations form an important part of its history.

Reasons for Listing

Listed as a pioneering factory designed on Modernist principles, making it a highly significant building of c1900. The factory's association with the First World War is of additional historic interest.

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