786/51/501 9 ELTHAM ROAD
08-JUN-73 Lee Green Fire Station
(Formerly listed as:
ELTHAM ROAD SE3
LONDON COUNTY COUNCIL FIRE STATION)
Fire Station, 1906, by the Fire Brigade Branch of the London County Council Architects Department. Small extension of the immediate post-war period and other minor later alterations.
MATERIALS: Red brick with lower courses of russet glazed brick, steeply pitched slate roof and tall brick chimneys. Rendering to twin gables and glazed brick at ground floor on side elevation. Stone canted bay to front.
PLAN: Three storeys, attic and basement. Roughly square plan at ground floor with an L-plan to south and east sides at first floor level and above.
EXTERIOR: Notable for having two elevations of architectural quality in the Arts and Crafts-style to the south, with a cross-gable, and to the east. The southern elevation has two bays to the left under a steep slate roof with its eaves soffit punctured by a long horizontal dormer beneath which are sash windows in tall segmental-headed recesses; each window has three sashes. Between the recesses at second floor level are attached gilt letters 'LCC / LEE GREEN / FIRE / BRIGADE / STATION / AD 1906' and coat of arms below. At ground floor level are the two appliance bays under a pent roof, both with modern doors. The section to the right has a slightly splayed cross-gable with painted white kneelers, a stone-faced canted bay to ground and first floor, two windows in attic, three at second floor, and one to each floor alongside the bay. The latter are divided by a drip mould which continues to the side elevation and the rear. The return elevation to the east has four equal bays and has prominent twin gables to the centre with rendered corbelled peaks and attic windows. The windows are a mixture of single sashes and groups of three or five and there is also a round arched entrance in glazed brick. The gable elevation to rear has pairs of sashes under segmental relieving arches to each floor above the drip mould. Next to it is access to the appliance bay via a post war extension, infilling a recessed section of the original plan, around which the upper storeys form an L-plan with three firemen's flats to each floor including attic, with concrete and iron balconies to the upper two floors. All entrances to apartments have red panelled doors with a variation of glazing to the top section, those to centre in segmental arches which provide access to the central staircase. The sliding pole is accessed from the roof garden at first floor level.
There are three firemen's cottages to the north of the station, but these are detached and in separate ownership and are not of special interest.
INTERIOR: The plan form survives with self-contained flats, with living area, bedrooms and washrooms, accessed from the staircase in the centre of the L-plan. The ground floor contains: the appliance room; watch-room, which has an internal segmental arched window overlooking the appliance bay and large segmental arch to the bay window; mess room, this with arched alcoves and simple fireplace; and equipment room in the modern extension. There is good survival of original joinery throughout, including moulded arched door-cases and doors, and a number of fireplaces with surrounds in glazed or bare brick and timber. The central staircase with metal balustrade survives although the handrail and treads have modern plastic coverings. The basement has storage cupboards and a fire escape with short metal ladder that exits into the equipment room.
HISTORY: Lee Green Station was opened on 13 December 1906 by Lewen Sharp of the Fire Brigade Committee of the London County Council. It is the product of the most fruitful period of fire station design in London, when the Fire Brigade was part of London County Council and stations were designed by a group of architects led by Owen Fleming and Charles Canning Winmill, both formerly of the LCC Housing Department. They brought the highly-experimental methods which had evolved for designing new social housing to the Fire Brigade Division, as the department was called from 1899, and drew on a huge variety of influences to create unique and commanding stations, often built to a bespoke design and plan. Some of the stations built in this period retained the arrangement of earlier stations whereby accommodation for firemen was in flats above the appliance bays, accessed via external balconies. Yet while derivative in plan, the treatment of the façades of these stations was always carefully considered. Lee Green is a good example of this period of fire station design, where the Arts and Crafts-style has been selected for its appropriateness to the suburban landscape of south-east London and deployed on two elevations of considerable charm and character. Extra accommodation was provided in two houses to the north of the station.
SOURCES: Andrew Saint, 'London's Architecture and the London Fire Brigade, 1866-1938' (Heinz Gallery RIBA, Exhibition Catalogue, 1981)
John B. Nadal, London's Fire Stations (Huddersfield, 2006)
Will Reading, 'L.C.C. Fire Stations, 1896-1916, their History, Condition and Future Use' (Architectural Association, Graduate School, 2007)
REASONS FOR DESIGNATION: Lee Green Fire Station is listed at Grade II for the following principal reasons:
* of special architectural interest as one of a remarkable series of fire stations built by the LCC between 1896-1914, each executed to a bespoke design, which are widely admired as being among the most accomplished achievements of this exceptionally rich and prolific period of LCC civic architecture;
* its Arts and Crafts-style composition featuring good quality brickwork, an imaginative variety of windows, tall chimneys and elegant gables;
* it exhibits the quality of material and attention to detail which are the hallmarks of LCC design; the principal elevations are virtually intact;
* good survival of original features, externally and inside.