Porchester Centre

Overview

Heritage Category:
Listed Building
Grade:
II
List Entry Number:
1262987
Date first listed:
28-Nov-1994
Statutory Address:
Porchester Centre, Porchester Road

Map

Ordnance survey map of Porchester Centre
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Location

Statutory Address:
Porchester Centre, Porchester Road

The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

County:
Greater London Authority
District:
City of Westminster (London Borough)
National Grid Reference:
TQ 25740 81360

Details

TQ 2581 SE 1900-/50/10059 PORCHESTER ROAD, W2 (west side) Porchester Centre II Public baths and wash-house, 1923-5 by Herbert Shepherd, a local architect for Paddington MB. Turkish (steam) baths, library and assembly rooms added in 1927-9 by Shepherd and H A Thomerson. Portland stone and brick with steel frame, slate roofs.

The earlier phase constructed as a First World War memorial, with large and small pools, a wash-house and a first-floor committee room (now offices). Five-bay frontage to Queensway with dentiled cornice and set-back three-bay first floor under high cornice and parapet. A symmetrical composition with rusticated stonework and three bays of paired columns in antis marking steps to recessed entrance. Two pairs of small windows to either side. All windows of bronzed metal with glazing bars. Entrance via elaborate memorial gates commemorating Paddington MB to round-arched doorways with keystone and mahogany double doors set either side of projecting bay window with foundation stone under, all beneath decorated coffered ceiling. These doors originally provided separate male and female entrances either side of ticket office.

First floor with central Venetian window flanked by two square windows, all under heavy keystones. Separate entrance to wash-house with glazed brick doorways and original doors reached down private side road and not now used.

The interior is particularly elaborate for a public baths complex of the 1920s. Entrance hall a double-height rectangular space decorated with glazed terracotta, teak woodwork, panelled plasterwork and a marble floor. Against one wall an apsed niche houses a World War I memorial, with above it tiled spandrels decorated with the arms of the Abbey and City of Westminster who once owned the land. Stone sculpture of maiden on marble base. Staircase with bronzed, neo-classical balustrade and teak handrail under glazed dome leads to first-floor, balcony, offices and committee room. This latter panelled in teak with domed ceiling and fibrous plaster frieze depicting galleons in a rough sea. First class baths lined in glazed terracotta with decorative swags, first floor balcony with curved balusters and teak handrail; clerestorey in barrel-vaulted ceiling. Second-class baths have false ceiling; slipper baths also survive.

The later phase fronting Porchester Road has Turkish baths to south (with separate entrance on corner) and library to north. In the centre a grand stair leads to first floor assembly rooms and other rooms for hire. A symmetrical composition of nine bays to Porchester Road, with rusticated stonework. Three storeys. Centre five bays with round windows to second floor. Entrance bay recessed behind massive shell-hood canopy supported on pilasters; the two bays to either sides with round-arched first floor windows and ground floor large bronzed margin-light tripartite top-opening casements intended as shopfronts - but never so used, as space behind incorporated as hall and reading room instead. High parapet with some balustrading over modillion eaves cornice. Five-bay elevation of brick and stone to both side returns, the three-bay brick centrepiece with first-floor round-arched and second-floor circular windows with linked stone mouldings all done in a manner inspired by Hampton Court. Large sill band over ground floor links the compositions of all these elevations.

The interior is still more sumptuous. Separate corner entrance with original teak doors, screens and paybox leads to Turkish baths. Relaxation or 'cooling' area on ground floor is square, with terracotta tiling under coffered ceiling, and central staircase set between square columns which support a groined plaster vault. Much plaster enrichment. Turkish baths with original marble slabs not inspected but said to be remarkably unaltered. Original entrance to public library at north end of site now blocked and the plain interior of the library is now reached via main central entrance, which retains original teak doors and screens. Ancillary hall reached on left of this entrance. In the centre, grand staircase of two straight flights leads with broad marble steps, wrought-iron and bronze balustrading under large glazed dome. This leads to double-height assembly hall on the first floor, with stage and ancillary serving rooms. Tripartitle coffered ceiling with hefty modillion plaster decoration and original light fittings. Oak and walnut panelling, the sides treated as two tiers of arcading. The whole effect exceptionally sumptuous and surviving remarkably preserved.

The complex is listed Grade II as an unusually elaborate complex of public rooms which survive with little alteration. The Turkish baths complex is now exceptionally rare, and is thought to be the best surviving example, whilst the hall is an unusually rich example of its date.

Sources: The Builder, 30 November 1923; 14 August 1925; 11 October 1929 Greater London Record Office: GLC/AR/BR/19/4249 and /3291.

Listing NGR: TQ2574081360

Legacy

The contents of this record have been generated from a legacy data system.

Legacy System number:
433581
Legacy System:
LBS

Sources

Books and journals
'The Builder' in 14 August, (1925)
'The Builder' in 11 October, (1929)
'The Builder' in 30 November, (1923)

Legal

This building is listed under the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990 as amended for its special architectural or historic interest.

End of official listing

Images of England

Images of England was a photographic record of every listed building in England, created as a snap shot of listed buildings at the turn of the millennium. These photographs of the exterior of listed buildings were taken by volunteers between 1999 and 2008. The project was supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund.

Date: 01 May 2004
Reference: IOE01/12196/04
Rights: Copyright IoE Mr Adam Watson. Source Historic England Archive
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