Railway Hotel, 1861-3 for the North Eastern Railway (NER) by Thomas Prosser, based on an earlier design by John Dobson; enlarged in 1888-90 and later by William Bell, also for the NER, with Richard Storey as chief clerk of works; rear extensions added 1924-5 by Stephen Wilkinson and 1934-5.
Reasons for Designation
The Royal Station Hotel, 1861-3, extended 1888-90, with additions of 1924-5 and 1934-5 is listed at Grade II for the following principal reasons:
* Historic interest: a good example of a Victorian railway hotel constructed by the North Eastern Railway, a railway company that employed in-house architects throughout its history;
* Architects: designed by the first permanent architect to the North Eastern Railway, Thomas Prosser from earlier drawings by the eminent architect John Dobson, and extended by William Bell;
* Architectural interest: an imposing, eclectic building of two main phases with attractive and well-articulated Classical elevations, including Prosser's mid-C19 original build;
* Interior quality: the later-C19 Jacobean revival style public spaces are extensive and opulent with well-detailed quality plaster work, carpentry and faience, extensively reported on at the time in British Architect;
* Interior decorative scheme: the high quality later-C19 interiors make extensive use of Burmantoft faience in a range of handsome colours, manufactured by one of the leading makers of architectural tiling of the time; much of the scheme is visible, painted over or survives beneath modern wall coverings;
* Degree of survival: an almost complete example of a C19 hotel, with early-C20 additions that serve to enhance its interest, and an interior that retains its original plan form throughout;
* Group value: it benefits from a clear spatial and functional group value with the earlier, attached Central Railway Station, Newcastle (Grade I), which it was constructed to serve.
Between 1847 and 1851 Newcastle Central Railway Station was constructed to the designs of the highly regarded architect John Dobson. Dobson also designed a hotel for the east end of the station of three storeys plus a basement, but these plans were cancelled due to financial restraint. Instead, two upper floors of hotel bedrooms were incorporated into the east end of the station behind the lunette windows of the Neville Street frontage, meaning each window was divided inside to light two rooms. The hotel was leased by Thomas Jeffery from 1 May 1852 at an initial rent of £150 rising per annum to £600. From the outset the hotel accommodation was considered inadequate.
Between 1861 and 1863 a new hotel was eventually constructed at the east end of the station to the designs of the first permanent architect to the North Eastern Railway (NER), Thomas Prosser (c.1817-88), who had worked for Dobson on the preparation of some of the many plans for the Central Station and served as Clerk of Works on its construction. The new hotel, opened as the Central Station Hotel (sometimes known as the Station Hotel), and was self-contained but intended to augment the small number of hotel bedrooms originally provided within the station itself. The contractors were Waite and Howard and the building cost £7777 3s 10d. The scale and location of the new hotel is considered to have drawn on Dobson's original plans and may have been discussed between Prosser and Dobson.
During the 1880s the NER undertook a programme of improving its stations and taking over their management. Central Station Hotel, Newcastle was the most profitable on the system, but operated well below its full potential and was taken in hand in 1887. The then NER architect William Bell, extended the building eastwards between 1888-90, with a square entrance tower at the junction of the two builds. The contractor was Walter Scott, managing a long list of sub-contractors. The original hotel entrance was rebuilt to provide access to the rear, and part of the original hotel’s ground floor became a booking office for coastal trains, with new street access. The principal function rooms of the new hotel were housed within the raised ground floor, differentiated by pedimented windows, and a billiards room occupied part of the basement. A decorative scheme of Burmantoft tiles, supplied by the Leeds Fireclay Company, one of the leading manufacturers of such tiles, was applied to the interior of the public spaces and designed by Bell. A further two storeys and an attic were subsequently added to the original 1860s building in order to even up the height between the two builds. William Bell served as chief architect to the railway company from 1877 to the end of 1914 and spent his entire career in the NER office. A contemporary description of the hotel's interior public spaces, including details of its decorative scheme was published in British Architect in 1893.
In 1924-5, a rear extension was added to designs by Stephen Wilkinson to provide a banqueting hall and extra bedrooms in a block that bridged the carriage road at the rear of the hotel. In 1934-5 a second rear extension created a buffet lounge and a new rear entrance. Some of the interior detailing also indicates that minor refurbishment took place within the interior including the gents first floor lavatories, the removal of the original ornate office from the entrance hall and the creation of a an enlarged entrance through the former rear wall. In 1948, when the railways were nationalised, it was one of many hotels taken over by the British Transport Commission, it continued to operate as a hotel and was sold to a private owner in 1983.
Railway Hotel, 1861-3 for the North Eastern Railway by Thomas Prosser, based on an earlier design by John Dobson; enlarged in 1888-90 and later by William Bell, also for the NER, with Richard Storey as chief clerk of works; rear extensions added 1924-5 by Stephen Wilkinson and 1934-5.
MATERIALS: iron frame, clad with red brick and ashlar sandstone; Welsh slate roof.
PLAN: linear, with a near central entrance tower. The west wing is the first phase (later raised in height) with two set-back bays linking the hotel to the station. The east wing (and the central entrance tower) is the second build, with two rear extensions.
EXTERIOR: the hotel occupies a long corner site and is attached to the east end of Newcastle Central Railway Station, with its principal elevation fronting Neville Street and a secondary elevation to Orchard Street. It has rusticated quoins and ground floor, and there are cornices to the first and third floors and a dentil eaves cornice. The mansard roof has pedimented dormers and there is a high hipped roof over the entrance bay.
Neville Street Elevation: a near central, square projecting entrance tower with a Corinthian porch has an attached glass entrance canopy supported by cast iron posts and elaborate ornamental brackets and steps leading up to an arcaded entrance. The floors above each have cornices and elaborate three-light Corinthian windows lighting the stair: that to the first floor has square heads, to the second floor semi-circular heads with a balcony and a segmental pediment, and to the third floor a pedimented head. The bay is completed by a segmental parapet. To the right of the central entrance bay is the original hotel build of ten bays and six storeys plus attics and basements. The elevated ground floor has keyed flat arches to the tall 4/4 sash windows and later steps up to entrances (modified window openings) in bays two and five. To the first floor there are tall four-pane sash window in architraves with alternate pedimented and segmental heads. The four upper floors have shorter four-pane sash windows in simple architraves (first floor) and segmental heads. To the right a pair of bays are set back and form a linking block to the Central Railway Station; there are paired two-light mullioned windows to the first floor and paired four-light sash windows to all other floors in simple stone surrounds. Below is a wide, keyed segmental arched passageway, with an ornate iron canopy to the front. To the left of the central entrance bay is the extended hotel range comprising ten bays and four storeys plus attic and basement; the first five bays are slightly projecting and quoined. This build is characterised by varying window treatments: the basement has a mixture of canted bay windows and four-pane sash windows, all with flat-arched keyed heads. The elevated ground floor displays the greatest elaboration with tall canted bay and sash windows with elaborate segmental and pedimented Corinthian architraves; the three canted bays are triple-height and project into the basement level and the first floor; the latter is otherwise plainer with replacement two-pane sash windows in plain surrounds. The third and fourth floors have lugged and segmental architraves respectively.
Orchard Street elevation: three bays and four storeys plus basement, with similar detailing to the main elevation with cornices and with keyed, pedimented and segmental window treatments to both sash windows and canted bay windows. The central bay contains a triple-height canted bay window with a pedimented central section. There are external metal fire escapes extending to the rear of the building. The east and west elevations of the projecting rear extension are fitted with modern uPVC window frames.
Rear elevation: regularly spaced 4/4 sash windows to each floor at east end forming the later-C19 hotel extension, with attached fire escapes, service equipment and sheds. The early-C20 extension projects at right angles under a mansard roof with, with fire exits and fire escapes to each floor. To the west of the latter is the double-height mid-C20 extension: this has a round-headed blind arcade, each arch with a leaded glass window. To the left there is a full-height art deco entrance within a fluted architrave; this has a large art deco glazed cylinder with a mahogany revolving door with art deco margin lights below. A canted corner contains a second entrance fitted with double doors and an art deco over light. To the left lies the rear of the original mid-C19 hotel. A ground floor arcade of five openings with round and segmental arched and keyed heads are separated by rectangular pilasters; the arches spring from imposts and there is a unifying impost band. The left end bay is wider and projecting with elaborate chamfers and has an arched carriage opening with four narrow lights above and above the four other arches there are 4/4 sash windows. Above these windows the attached steel and glazed canopies of the central station obscure vision above the first floor, but each floor has a regularly spaced window openings with a bay to the left containing fire exits and fire escapes.
INTERIOR: the rich interior with grand staircase and ornate public rooms are in the Jacobean revival style fashionable in the late C19. There is extensive use of faience produced at the Burmantoft Works, Leeds, most of which survives, though painted over and obscured by modern panelling and wall coverings.
Lobby and entrance hall: the hotel is entered through renewed main entrance doors into a lobby divided into two by a modern glazed partition; the rear part has modern half panelling to the walls and a flight of steps forming the lower part of the grand staircase giving access to the elevated ground floor. The entrance hall is carpeted, but we understand that the original mosaic floor with Grecian motifs and borders remains beneath. The walls have modern wall coverings and are half-panelled but the original extensive and ornate faience decorative scheme remains behind, and original elements such as projecting cornices are visible in the upper parts. The faience continues to the ceiling, which is divided into several bays by beams decorated with a guilloche pattern and each panelled bay has diaper decoration. A large enriched atrium pierces the ceiling at the rear of the hall and extends upwards through all floors, though now infilled at fourth floor level with a plaster ceiling, from which hangs a large chandelier. There are two opposing elegant, baroque door cases to either side of the hall. The original reception kiosk located between two of these openings has been removed (probably in the mid-1930s refurbishment), and the space occupied by a three-bay art deco glazed partition. The rear wall of the reception hall is pierced by an enlarged opening created in the mid-1930s when the hall was extended to the south, and this area houses the present modern reception and has C20 wall coverings, panelling and door cases.
Stair hall: the open well staircase has ornate cast iron newel posts and scrolled and floriated balustrades with a mahogany ramped handrail with scrolled ends; marble facings at the end of each tread give the impression of a fully marble staircase. The stair ascends to the four upper floors, lit by an elaborate stair window to each floor. Within each large landing there is a rectangular well set to the rear, with ornate cast iron balustrade to match the main stair. The soffits of the staircase are richly decorated with painted-over faience, and a richly patterned dado of unpainted buff, dark brown and cream faience tiles with moulded plinth, remains visible on the staircase and landing walls throughout. The richly adorned coved ceiling to the stairwell with elaborate cornice, is divided into panels, surrounding a decorative glass roof light (painted over), from which a chandelier is suspended from a central boss and extends down to the ground floor.
Ground floor public rooms: within the east wing a richly adorned corridor leads from the entrance hall to a number of former public rooms. The ornate coved ceiling is divided into panels decorated with a number of motifs including scallop shells. The corridor is extensively covered in faience tiling (mostly painted over) and has a central Ionic colonnade to either side bearing an entablature, with elaborate central door cases and double six-panel doors. The former Dining Room (Windsor) to the right has a panelled oak dado, parquet floor and elaborate cornice; the north wall incorporates Ionic pilasters, and walls overall are divided into plaster panels now filled with modern wall paper. At either end there is an original fire place and ornate chimney piece. The ceiling is divided into three bays and has a simple decorative motif. To the left of the large bay window there is a stained glass window, over painted, and to the right a similar window is obscured by a later panel. The former Reading and Writing Room (Balmoral) on the left has a parquet floor and original half-height mahogany panelling; the south wall incorporates an Ionic pilasters and entablature. The elaborate coved ceiling is divided by geometric patterns with circular and star-shaped motifs and a rectangular border. At either end are Jacobean-style mahogany chimney pieces with mirrored over mantles. At the end of the corridor, an ornate baroque entrance with replacement double doors into the former Coffee Room (Victoria Suite).This has a parquet floor and panelling to dado level with walls above divided into panels. The five-bay ceiling is divided by beams supported by four Corinthian columns, and the sides and soffits of the beams are richly decorated with scrolled and guilloche plaster work and the ceiling panels have central roses. The main entrance has an elaborate plaster door case incorporating a clock. A modern bar is set into one corner. Within the west wing to the right of the entrance hall, art deco double doors set into an original ornate door case lead into a former lounge (Empire Bar), with a coffered ceiling and moulded panels to the walls. The extreme west end of this west wing was remodelled as a booking hall in the late-C19, which retains an original central timber booking office, now in use as a bar and accessed from the street (Science Bar).
First floor public rooms: the east wing has a similar arrangement of public rooms to that of the ground floor. A plain corridor leads from the landing, with moulded plaster cornices and arches springing from corbels, with moulded plaster panels to the walls. A former ladies' lavatory (Porter's Store) retains painted-over faience tiles and a plaster cornice. A former drawing room next to this (Grainger) could not be inspected but is understood to have a panelled ceiling. A former sitting room (Grey) was originally accessed from the drawing room through openings with five-panelled doors; it has a cornice, chair and plate rail and a panelled ceiling. Two further sitting rooms (Sandringham and Neville) are simply adorned with moulded cornices, skirtings, chimney pieces and walls divided into moulded panels with corner bosses, now infilled with modern wall paper. A gentlemen's lavatory has a terrazzo floor, tiled walls and a full complement of Adamzez Ltd. 'Radio' urinals, the scheme thought to date to the late 1930s. At the east end of the corridor double doors and a short straight flight of stairs with out-turned cast iron balustrade and hand rail, give entry to the Banqueting Room added in 1924. Its interior scheme is C18 style, with an ornate internal plaster door case, a coffered ceiling with enriched panels, and side walls divided by fluted pilasters with foliate capitals into panels. A modern bar is set into one corner. A single room (Dobson) is set to the rear of the landing and entered through ornate eight-panelled double doors: this has a coffered ceiling with fluted soffits and half-height timber panelling throughout, with plain walls above. In the west wall, the panelling rises higher in the form of a round pediment incorporating a clock.
Basement public rooms: a series of public rooms are set to the east end, formerly comprising a Smoking Room and a Billiard room incorporating a refreshment bar. They have been opened out to form a single space (Jalou). The rooms were formerly accessed from the ground floor by a marble stair that retains its mahogany, ramped handrail, and is lit by a large, stained and leaded glass stair window, with walls and ceiling extensively covered in a decorative faience tiles. The former Smoking Room with a single bay window has a pair of tiled Corinthian columns either side of an entrance from the street and the original architrave to an entrance in the south wall remains (doors removed). The original faience scheme applied to the walls throughout, is visible as a frieze and cornice, in the window reveals and elsewhere; it appears to continue behind the modern wall coverings throughout. The former billiard room lies beyond to the east with an original faience tiled ceiling in a lattice pattern of buff and cream tiles and has a similar survival of faience tiling to the walls. A modern bar obscures the remainder of this room. Floor coverings are of timber, but it is thought that original mosaic floors remain below.
All floors within both the west and east wing retain their original plans of a spine corridor with rooms to either side. Doors and architraves throughout are mostly original. Former communal bathrooms remain as stores, some with evidence of their former use such as terrazzo floors and the remains of cubicles. Many bedrooms have inserted ensuite bathrooms and ensuite bathrooms have been created in other rooms by converting existing adjoining spaces: all ensuites have modern sanitary ware. A sample of rooms was inspected on each floor.
West wing: the corridors are entered through modern double doors, and the wing has a separate staircase with cast iron balusters and a wooden handrail giving access to all floors. Room doors are five-panel to the later-C19 addition, which also have corbelled supports to the ceilings, and four- panel to the original lower floors, with the exception of the lower third floor which has four-panel replacement doors throughout. Inspected rooms within the later-C19 addition retain simple cornices, chimney breasts and, it is understood, hearths beneath the modern carpet; attic rooms have coved ceilings and some rooms have panelling to the windows. Inspected rooms within the lower, original build moulded cornices and one fireplace with a timber surround was visible.
East wing: some corridors reveal painted-over faience tiles and all have original five-panel doors. Some corridors have a timber and glazed partition mid-way on the south side leading to the service staircase and former communal lavatories and bathroom, the latter retaining elements of the original plaster coving. The third floor has ornate plaster arches beneath the ceiling support beams. Inspected rooms have chimney breasts and moulded cornices. The rear extension is entered through an arched opening with has a moulded cornice to the corridors and three-panel doors set within C18 style architraves. The former eight rooms to each floor have been knocked through to create four, but the obsolete doors are retained. Some inspected rooms retain moulded cornices (some obscured above suspended ceilings) and attic rooms have coved ceilings.
A service stair within the east wing communicates with all floors and has stick balusters and a timber handrail with glazed brick walls to most areas. Paired lifts are located on the landings of each floor within the east wing and an original laundry rooms remains on the fourth floor landing. The ground floor servery and former Plate Room located on ground floor east wing corridor are relatively plain but the former has a simple moulded cornice and an arched recess and the latter retains plain tiles; the servery remains in use and has modern fittings and appliances*. Within the basement, to the west of the public rooms, a full-length spine corridor is partly clad in cream ceramic brick and gives access to original kitchens and associated service rooms, many with arched entrances, internal alcoves and ceramic glazed ceilings; all are fitted with modern kitchen fittings and appliances. Other rooms off the spine corridor within the west wing provide storage including vaulted wine cellars and beer stores.
SUBSIDIARY FEATURES: low, stepped ashlar stone wall with copings and replacement railings are set to the front of the Neville Street and Orchard Street elevations.
Pursuant to s.1 (5A) of the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990 (‘the Act’) it is declared that post-war fittings and finishes including signage, joinery, suspended ceilings, cladding, partitions and plant, paired lifts and fire escapes, sanitary ware and kitchen fittings throughout the building are not of special architectural or historic interest. Also not included in this listing are the roofs of the station canopies attached to the rear elevation and a range of stone walling and service equipment and its housing also attached to the rear, in addition to the north wall of the ramped station access at the east end.