A large and ornate commercial premises dating to 1902-1905 and designed by A N Bromley as the Boots central store in Nottingham.
Reasons for Designation
The former Boots Store, located at 10 Pelham Street and 2A, 2B High Street, designed by A N Bromley and dating to 1902-1905, is listed at Grade II* for the following principal reasons:
* as an exceptional example of an early-C20 commercial building with effusive use of beaux-arts detailing which forms a remarkable composition;
* for the quality of the surviving Art-Nouveau shop front, which is both a fine and rarely surviving example of its type, which has been little altered throughout the history of the building;
* as an accomplished work of a talented and confident architect whose output is already well represented on the List.
* as one of the first flagship stores for a major nationwide commercial enterprise, designed in a 'house style';
* because of its close and clearly evidenced associations with the Boot family and company.
Nottingham occupies an important strategic site on the sandstone cliffs which command an ancient crossing point of the River Trent to the south of the town, the site of the present Trent Bridge. There was no apparent Roman occupation but some pre-C9 history is indicated by its Saxon name – Snotingeham, homestead of the Snots. Nottingham was one of the five boroughs of the Danelaw but in 921 it was recovered by the Saxons. The medieval walled town consisted of the French settlement to the west dominated by the royal castle built by William Peveral for William the Conqueror, and the Anglo-Danish settlement to the east dominated by St Mary’s Church with the largest market place in England linking them together. The Trent fostered trade and Nottingham prospered in industry and commerce, chiefly wool-dyeing and cloth-making. The medieval town, according to Leland, ‘was both a large town and welle builded for tymber and plaister’ with thatched roofs.
After the Civil War, two fashionable quarters grew up, one round St Mary’s Church, the other round the rebuilt castle, and by the end of the C17, Nottingham was transformed into an elegant town filled with fine brick townhouses, some with generous gardens. A series of visitors left glowing records of the new town created by this rebuilding. Celia Fiennes in 1694 called it ‘the neatest town I have ever seen’, and Daniel Defoe, thirty years later, said it was ‘one of the most pleasant and beautiful towns in England’. Transformation into an industrial city began in the C18 with the commercial success of the domestic framework-knitting industry, salt-glazed stoneware and brick-making at Mapperley. The population nearly doubled from 28,000 in 1801 to 50,000 in 1830, and the gardens, orchards and other green spaces were gradually built over replacing the once green and pleasant town with a congested industrial one. This was largely caused by the corporation townsmen who were not willing to relinquish common land around the town for development. It was only after the reform of the town council in the 1830s and the eventual passing of a series of Enclosure Acts in the 1840s that land around the town was released to allow for the Victorian expansion to begin in earnest.
After the exodus of large numbers of people to the new suburbs, the lace trade took over the streets round St Mary’s Church for its warehouses, and the area became known as the Lace Market. The 1870s saw a spate of public works, such as Trent Bridge (1871), the first Board School (1874), the first industrial dwellings (1876-1877), and University College (1877-1881); and in 1877 the borough was extended to include Sneinton, Basford, Bulwell, Radford, and Lenton. Nottingham became a city in 1897 but its population increased most significantly when more of the surrounding villages were incorporated in the 1930s and 1950s. Nottingham suffered little war damage but in 1942 a Reconstruction Committee was appointed to plan post-war development. There were major slum clearances and an inner ring road was constructed which disrupted the old town’s plan.
Nottingham is also where the Boot's Chemists company originated. The first Boots stores were built by Jesse Boot (1850-1931) who was born in Nottingham. His father, John Boot, had been an agricultural labourer in Radcliffe-on-Trent but due to ill health he became a purveyor of herbal medicines in Nottingham, helped by his wife Mary. After John’s death, Jesse began to assist his mother and by the age of twenty-one he became a partner and the business was known as ‘Mary & Jesse Boot – Herbalists’. Jesse’s ethos was to sell large quantities of stock as cheaply as possible and he also branched out into non-medicinal products. After Mary’s retirement in the late 1870s, Jesse took sole charge of the business, expanding it first in Nottingham and then nationally. He and his wife Florence also took a keen interest in the welfare of their employees, providing works canteens where they could obtain food at reasonable prices and organising activities outside working hours. In 1909 Jesse Boot received a knighthood in recognition of his outstanding success and in 1928 he became a peer of the realm, assuming the title of Lord Trent. He was known for his philanthropic activities in Nottingham, such as giving £50,000 to the Nottingham General Hospital and donating land on which to establish Nottingham University.
The store, located on the corner of Pelham Street and the High Street, which is thought to be the site of the Blackamoor Inn, was constructed in 1902-1905 and replaced an earlier store of 1892 which was supposedly designed by Jesse Boot himself. The new building was the first Boots central-depot, or ‘flagship store’. The rebuilding followed the demolition of adjoining High Street buildings for street widening which in turn allowed for enlargement of the building. The work involved the introduction of an ornate and highly detailed style for the principal elevations.
The new enlarged store – still referred to as ‘Pelham Street’ though fronting the High Street as well – was planned and designed in 1902, the date of a view of the proposed building signed by the architect A. N. Bromley. A similar view was reproduced in Boots’ ‘scribbling diaries’ of 1904. These differ from the completed building in several respects, showing that the design underwent some revision. In particular, they do not show the dropped parapets of the first and seventh bays facing the High Street, instead showing a level parapet and an integral gabled dormer over the seventh bay, which contained a lift serving the basement and sub-basement and served as the goods entrance. The implication is that the lift was originally intended to rise to attic level. Furthermore, these views do not show the Art Nouveau shop-front, but indicate something more akin to that of the 1892 building. By the time the store opened in December 1905 a new artist’s view had been prepared, including the Art Nouveau shop-front and the adjusted upper-floor design (Nottingham Daily Express, 9 December 1905).
The architectural treatment of the building can be compared with that of other Boots’ stores. The terracotta may have been Doulton’s Carraraware, which was specified at some other branches. Some of the motifs had appeared on Boots’ facades in the 1890s: for example, cross-light windows with terracotta mullions and transoms at Liverpool (1896) and Grantham (1899); paired dolphins at Bedford (1898). Furthermore, this appears to have been the first use of the Art Nouveau shop-front, which was replicated in other Boots stores, though no other examples have survived. Some leaded and coloured glass survives at Pelham Street. It is not known who produced decorative glass for Boots’ branches, but an account of the Gloucester store of 1914 mentioned that its glass was made by ‘Mr Bonner of London’.
Part of the internal galleried light-well of the 1892 shop was retained, and several of its columns and capitals can be still seen inside the store building on both the ground and first floor, although the light well itself has been floored over. The premises were further enlarged to the south in the 1920s or 1930s, following the demolition of an adjoining shop. The facade of the extension is in a style matching the 1902-1905 building, but the goods entrance and sanitary facilities were reconfigured and a lift shaft was inserted into a previously open internal courtyard. Boots left the store in 1972 after nearly a century of occupation of the site and the interior was altered by the Architects Design Group in 1974. The store has subsequently passed through several hands and undergone further internal alterations, most recently in the early C21 by CPMG for Zara, and remains in use as a fashion retail store.
The architect for the new building was Albert Nelson Bromley (1850-1934), a Scottish-born architect who practised in Nottingham, initially in partnership with his uncle Frederick Bakewell. Amongst their earliest assignments were Huntingdon Street Board School (1874) and Victoria Buildings (1875-1876), Nottingham City Council’s first venture into housing, now listed at Grade II as Park View Apartments. Bromley soon set up his own practice, becoming architect to the Nottingham School Board, Tramway Company and National Telephone Company as well as his work for Boots. Altogether Bromley has eight buildings on the List, most of which are civic. He also designed a house for David Lloyd George at Walton Heath, Surrey.
The building was originally listed in October 1973, with the List entry being updated in 1995 and the building described as: Shop, now shops and restaurant (the street numbers in Pelham Street now combined). 1903-04. By A N Bromley of Nottingham for Boots Chemists. Restored 1974. Terracotta front with slate roofs. Renaissance Revival style with Art Nouveau detailing to the shop-fronts. EXTERIOR: 3 storeys plus attics; 7 x 8 windows. Rounded corner entrance bay has an altered doorway flanked by granite-clad pilasters. Above, a 3-light mullioned window, and above again, an opening to a semicircular balustraded balcony. Above it, a clock supported by relief figures. Above again, a short turret with round-arched openings, topped with a lead ogee dome. Left return, to Pelham Street, has string course and dentillated main cornice. Elliptical arched cross-mullioned windows with keystones, divided by pilasters. To left, a recessed glazed double door with overlight. Above, 2-light windows on a sill band, with engaged columns and cornices. Ground floor shopfront, returned on both fronts, has plate glass windows with shaped spandrels, divided by narrow wooden mullions with Ionic capitals and animal masks. Curvilinear toplights in a band of relief carving, all under a continuous moulded wood cornice. Right return, to High Street, has a similar cornice with projecting brackets, and above it, a pierced balustrade. Similar fenestration, with taller second floor windows with transoms. Attic has 3 shaped dormers. Off-centre entrance with incurving side windows flanked by pilasters, ceiling with curvilinear mirror panels, and glazed double doors with heart-shaped overlight. Rounded corner to right has a 3-light cross-mullioned window on the upper floors and is topped with a round-arched panel containing a cartouche. Return to High Street Place, 2 bays, has regular fenestration. INTERIOR refitted and remodelled, late C20.
Large and ornately detailed Neo-Renaissance and Art Nouveau retail premises, built in 1902-1905 for Boot's Chemists, designed by Albert Nelson Bromley, extended in the 1920s and refurbished in 1974, now in other commercial use.
MATERIALS: glazed terracotta facade, plate glass shop fronts, timber window surrounds and slate roofs.
PLAN: the building is rectangular in overall plan form with rounded corners to the north-west and south-west corners. There is an early C20 extension located to the east.
EXTERIOR: the building has three storeys and an attic and is of 8 bays to Pelham Street and 7 bays to the High Street, with 5 further bays on the east elevation. The main entrance is on the west elevation and there are additional entrances to the north-east and north-west corners. The building is particularly distinguished by an ornate and highly decorated terracotta facade to both the principal elevations in Neo-Renaissance classical style and with effusive use of Art Nouveau detailing to the shop fronts. The regularity of the facade is emphasised by string and cill courses which articulate the storeys, and pilasters which delineate the bays. The pilasters have dolphin motifs set within the capitals on both upper floors. The seven bays on the right of the north elevation are higher than the rest and have large mullioned and transomed windows on the second floor; the two right-most bays on this elevation are from the later addition and have glazed panels with a higher sheen. The first-floor elevations have elliptical key-stoned cross-mullioned windows with scrolled glazing bars; some of the upper central panes contain stained glass. The second floor has bi-partite square-headed windows set in classical entablatures, the architraves supported by diminutive engaged columns with Corinthian capitals. These windows have small-pane glazing. Above is a heavy-set dentilled cornice with three balls at the top of each of the pilasters. Putti are located under the brackets which support the dentilled cornice, surmounted by a finialed balustrade, behind which is the attic roof with scrolled dormers. The shop front is set with large plate glass windows divided by narrow mullions topped with ionic capitals and animal masks. The transom lights are set with curvilinear Art Nouveau panels. The principal entrance on Pelham Street is off-centre and within a deep lobby, the entrance is flanked by ornately carved pilasters. The panels above the entrance lobby are set with mirrored glazing in curvilinear panels and the doorway has a large heart-shaped glazed panel above a carved single-leaf panelled door. The fascia above the lobby has further Art Nouveau panels. The tower to the north-west corner is of three stages above the entrance flanked by plain granite pilasters on the ground floor, with a clock supported by relief figures to the second floor set above a balcony, with a turret with round-arched openings covered by a small ogee dome. The south-west corner has large tripartite windows on the first and second floors; there are coloured and leaded glass panels to transom lights of the windows. Above is a cartouche containing the Boots monogram of a Gothic-style B flanked by supporting figures in relief. The east elevation has two bays in the same decorative style as the others; the remainder are plain and finished with fletton-type brickwork. There are further stained glass panels which have been reset in the windows of this part of the elevation.
INTERIOR: The interior has been remodelled in the early C21. Four columns, distinguished by decorative capitals are present on each of the ground and first floor and remain from the original late-C19 Boots store in which they supported the gallery of the light well. These have been retained in the current store but have been added to by thicker columns with plainer moulded capital detailing. Some have indicator marks (prefixed with C on ground floor, D on first floor) many of which have been erased. No other original features remain apparent because of later alterations but it is possible that cornicing and other decorative features remain beneath the current shop-fit. A service stair at the rear of the building retains wrought iron stick balusters some of which have wave detailing.