Two cast-iron promenade shelters of 1904, refurbished and relocated in the early C21, by Walter MacFarlane and Co of the Saracen Foundry, Glasgow.
Reasons for Designation
The two shelters, second and third from the south in a group of six shelters on Princess Parade in Blackpool, promenade shelters of 1904, relocated in 2012, are listed at Grade II for the following principal reasons:
* increasingly-rare survivals of good quality Edwardian street shelters, particularly redolent of the seaside, and retaining many of their original design features (some in accurate replica).
* for their strong visual relationship with the others in the group, and with the listed North Pier and the listed war memorial.
In May 1903 renowned Glasgow iron-founders Walter MacFarlane and Co (MacFarlanes) were commissioned by Blackpool Corporation to supply ten shelters for the ‘new promenade’, thought to mean the south shore where the promenade had recently been extended southwards from Station Road to Balmoral Road. Almost square in plan, they had swept roofs, supported by classical columns and foliate brackets. Four were reported to be completed by the end of September, which probably means four pairs, as they were placed in pairs flanking steps down to the beach, and some committee minutes refer to a pair as one shelter. The 1911 1:2,500 Ordnance Survey (OS) map (surveyed 1909) shows eleven pairs of shelters between south and central piers, seven of which are later and accounted for below. This suggests that the other four pairs are from this original order, sited opposite Rawcliffe Street, Shaw Road, Alexandra Road and Crystal Road. The ‘missing’ two shelters from the 1903 order are thought to have been sited unpaired at the north shore, on the middle walk.
In 1904 ten more shelters for the promenade were commissioned to be supplied and fitted by Radford and Greaves of Derby, and these are also thought to have been manufactured by MacFarlanes. These ten shelters were in place by the end of September 1904. Four more shelters were ordered against Radford and Greaves’ additional tender of November 1904. These fourteen shelters were sited in pairs opposite Woodfield Road, Wellington Road, Waterloo Avenue (now Barton Avenue), Trafalgar Road, Foxhall Square; and Yorkshire Street and Waterloo Road.
Alterations to the windows, and to lower the wooden partitions of some of the shelters, were approved in 1905, probably to increase the visibility of occupants and reduce vandalism. Storm damage to the glazing and ‘sashes’ of some of the shelters was noted in 1907 (they were right on the sea wall).
By the survey for the 1961 1:2,500 OS map, the south-shore shelters had all been removed except those opposite Alexandra Road, Wellington Road and Trafalgar Road. These were listed in pairs in 1983 (National Heritage List for England – NHLE – entries 1072013, 1072012 and 1205804), along with the two north-shore shelters (NHLE 1362392 and 1280483).
Around 2005 the south-shore listed shelters were removed to allow the building of the new promenade and sea defences. In 2012, they were re-erected at Princess Parade, close to the town’s war memorial (NHLE 1072010), but not in their original pairs. The commissioning history above, and the differences between two of the six shelters when compared with the other four (see below), suggest that the current north and south shelters at Princess Parade date from 1903 and originally stood at Alexandra Road, while the central four date from 1904 and stood at Wellington and Trafalgar Roads.
A 1999 photograph shows that the northern of the south-shore pair listed under NHLE 1205804 (then opposite Wellington Road) had by then lost two of the leaves from its finial; this is therefore thought to be the third shelter from the south at Princess Parade, as that now has no finial, and the other three surviving finials of this type are all complete. This suggests that the two shelters in this List entry are that pair, while the two shelters immediately to the north are the pair listed under NHLE 1072012 (originally opposite Trafalgar Road). These four have oval dormers very similar to designs in a MacFarlanes catalogue. However some columns have the mark of Browns Foundry Company Ltd of Derby (formed in 1897), and capitals which do not match any known MacFarlanes design. The columns appear to have been locally sourced by the contractors, perhaps to reduce costs.
These shelters have benches with accurate reproduction castings by Trumetals Foundry Limited, which operated from 1951 until around 1999. The design matches a design in a MacFarlanes catalogue of around 1890. Brackets and finials also match designs in the catalogue although most brackets are reportedly recastings taken from an original around 2005. The shelters no longer have the palmette terminals which originally adorned the eaves and corners, accentuating the effect of the swept roof. The screens also have woodwork with modern routered detailing, and have lost all glazing.
Walter MacFarlane and Company
Walter MacFarlane and Company were one of the most prolific suppliers of architectural ironwork in the world, operating from 1851 to 1967 out of ‘Saracen Foundry’ (in three successive locations). In 1875 the foundry covered 80 acres and employed over 1,400 people. Over 80 cast-iron listed structures in England are attributed to them, including telephone kiosks, sewage ventilator shafts, lamp posts, drinking fountains, urinals and bandstands. More listed examples of their work are known but unattributed, and the true number is probably several hundred.
Two promenade shelters of 1904, relocated in 2012, by Walter MacFarlane and Co of the Saracen foundry, Glasgow, with some castings by Browns Foundry Company of the Nelson ironworks, Derby.
MATERIALS: cast-iron columns, brackets, dormers, gutters and finials with wooden screens, and lead-covered roofs. Steel bench castings.
DESCRIPTION: each of almost-square plan, with slim columns (some bearing Browns casting marks) at the corners, linked by screens at each end, and with an axial screen aligned north-south. The round columns have scroll capitals and each has three foliate brackets in open arabesque pattern, supporting the diagonal timbers of the roof soffit. The emphatically-ribbed swept roofs have a blind oval dormer on each side, and a depressed-ogee cap with needle finial (in 2021, missing from the northern one of the pair). Ogee gutters discharge via the columns. The screens have tongue-and-groove lower panels and (now unglazed) upper glazing panels. The axial screens have concave tongue-and-groove, accommodating a curved bench on both sides. The ends have straight benches.
Many components are identical to, or very closely match, designs in a MacFarlanes catalogue of approximately 1890, including: dormers (type 40 on p644); brackets (type 53, p549) and finials (type 423, p119). The bench castings match type 11, p402.