TQ 2781 NE GLOUCESTER PLACE, NW1
1900/34/10172 Dorset House (Nos.128-130)
including Nos.1-9 Glentworth
Street, 148-168 Marylebone Road
and 31-37 Melcombe Street)
Block of 185 flats above underground parking garage, ground floor filling station, restaurant and 16 shops. 1934-5, architects T P Bennett and Son, consulting architect Joseph Emberton, with reliefs by Eric Gill, developer Claude Leigh. Brown brick, Flemish bond with stone dressings, wrought iron balustrades and brick and stone balcony fronts; asphalt flat roofs on concrete slabs, brick chimneys. The building occupies a complete street block, with full site coverage on ground floor, apart from shallow entrance courtyard from Gloucester Place. Entrance to filling station on corner of Gloucester Place and Marylebone Road; entrances to underground parking garage from Marylebone Road and Glentworth Street. Remainder of perimeter occupied by shops and restaurant. 2 storey basement, and 10 storeys above, top 2 stepped back from street frontage. The main entrance to the flats leads through a vestibule, into a porter's office, into a broad, shallow foyer with apsidal ends, from which open out the twin circular front lift halls, while broad corridors lead to the twin circular rear lift halls. The 4 circulation cores open on to central spine corridors leading to individual flats on each level. There are also tenants' access stairs front and rear. The service entrances open from the left and right inner corners of the entrance courtyard, with spine corridors serving trunk rooms, banks of maids' bedrooms, and leading to the independent service stairs and lifts, which gave access to the kitchen entrances of each flat. The central area of the ground floor was reserved for a restaurant, given access from the foyer, but now served from the Glentworth Street frontage. The upper floors are planned as a series of linked T' and L' blocks, with their tails pointing streetwards, ranged around a broad court, open to Gloucester Place above the entrance. 1,2 and 3 bedroom flats were provided, those on the first floor having access to roof terraces, and those on the 8th and 9th floor set back behind sundecks.
Steel-framed structure, concrete floors, Moderne style facades. Ground floor podium has shopfronts of no distinction, below artificial stone fascia and cornice band. Sweeping concave curve to petrol filling station on corner of Gloucester Place and Marylebone Road emphasised by channelled rustication and bold overhanging canopy-cornice of first floor. Similar treatment to first floors of flats, with a continuous projecting balcony running around the perimeter at second floor level. External cladding of second floor and above predominantly brick, with vertical emphasis given by ribbed treatment on the immediate flanks of the projecting block ends. Purpose-designed Crittall horizontal bar metal windows throughout, many full length French windows. Twin canted bays either side of a roll-moulded artificial stone panel running from second to seventh floors, with the rolls taken across the third floor balcony. Iron balcony fronts with curved ends to all major rooms, with horizontal bars as in ships railings; brick balcony fronts to recessed facades between projections. Full length slit windows from first to ninth floors mark service stairs, rear access stairs have canted bay windows of similar height. Roofs have moulded artificial stone copings to parapets.
Entrance from Gloucester Place recessed beneath canopy, now insensitively altered, but originally with moulded banded fascia and curved corners. Stone panels either side carved by Eric Gill. Interior of foyer retains coved ceilings, and cased beams. Raised curved apsidal ends lead to circular lift halls, which have ribbed walls and circular-stepped ceilings. Tenants' stairs have terrazzo treads with mosaic inserts, terrazzo strings and iron railings with Art Deco detailing. Service stairs of simplified design, with concrete finish and utilitarian ships railings. Interiors of most flats comprehensively refurbished, with renewal of kitchen and bathroom fittings, but coved ceilings survive, with some original fire surrounds. Due to extent of alterations interiors of flats not of special interest.
Dorset House is one of the most impressive Moderne style complexes of flats built in central London. The practical skills of T P Bennett and Son ensured that the intricacies of separating service areas from tenants' corridors and public rooms was solved, and the design contribution of Joseph Emberton to the public areas raised the aesthetic quality well above the norms of most contemporary commercial developments. The Times' obit for Bennett, 31/01/80 recorded his ability to assess the potential of a site, prepare alternative schemes for its development, and to produce meticulous figures of cost and return gave him an enviable reputation with developers such as Claude Leigh (for whom he designed Dorset House, Marylebone)'. Original rents ranged from ?150-?385 p.a.
A J 27/02/36, pp333-8; Blder 01/03/35, pp409-11; 10/01/36,pp 83-4; Pevsner London 3' p 658.
Listing NGR: TQ2781081964