Heritage Category:
Listed Building
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Date first listed:
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Statutory Address:

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

Greater London Authority
Ealing (London Borough)
National Grid Reference:
TQ 15117 84496

Reasons for Designation

Yes, list


962/0/10114 GREENFORD ROAD 17-JAN-11 891 to 995 front range (blocks 1 and 2) ex-Headquar ters, Glaxo Building

II Front range (blocks 1 and 2) of the former headquarters of Glaxo Laboratories Ltd.1935, by Wallis Gilbert & Partners. Later C20 alterations.

MATERIALS: Steel-framed construction on concrete foundations, faced in sand limed brick and with artificial stone cills. A deep sub-ground floor plinth faced with white cement rendering, which changes to stone on the features flanking the entrance.

PLAN: the front range of the former headquarters lies parallel to Greenford bypass and was approached from the north. The front range was laid out with the smaller research building seen first on arrival, anticipating the symmetrical main range and complementing the deeper basement level at the southern end of the main range. The southern elevation of the main range with its buttresses and piers overlooked the open space within the site, and before the tree cover developed, would have been visible from the southern approach on the Greenford by-pass. The former laboratory and production areas attached to the rear of the administrative wing are not of special interest.

EXTERIOR: Blocks 1 and 2, the original administrative wing and linked research block, and built in 1935, are two-storey ranges with a basement beneath the southern wing, forming the frontage of the site. The upper floor bridge which linked the blocks is replaced by a two-storey, inserted, bay echoing the main ranges on the front elevation and clearly an infill at the rear. On the main east-facing elevation, horizontal ranges of windows on two storeys, between continuous concrete cills and parapets, have replaced metal-framed windows with larger panes than the originals, and are set between black Oroglas acrylic panels, which are bolted on and replace the original black vitrolite panels which were attached by adhesive. The entrance, which is centrally placed on block 1, is marked by a prominent tower with a square cut, stepped profile typical of commercial and industrial design of the period. It is flanked by two-storey wings which are set forward, and have glazed corner units. They frame shaped, stone-clad parapet walls and pedestals for torcheres, which enclose a flight of rounded steps which rise to the entrance. The entrance is set between curved profiled piers and under a facetted prow-like finial above the parapet. Above the entrance is a full height, deeply recessed window in four horizontal sections, again with the original glazing replaced. The southern elevation, which was designed to be seen as a whole, but is now divided by the addition of the link to block 26, has a full lower storey within the plinth, defined by concave buttress feet at the angles, which flank substantial, incised drum piers. Most windows at the rear of the building have been replaced.

INTERIOR: the entrance hall, which was the only internal area of architectural distinction has been altered, reducing the significance of the surviving incised drum piers, stairs, shallow ceiling and window mouldings which do survive. The interior layout, which was designed as open plan offices, small offices for senior management and research laboratories, no longer has special interest.

HISTORY The Greenford site was designed in 1935 by Wallis Gilbert & Partners following a commission from Joseph Nathan & Company for premises for the newly formed Glaxo Laboratories Ltd, to provide offices, laboratories and a factory for the manufacture of pharmaceuticals and foods. 'Glaxo' had been registered by Joseph Nathan & Company in 1906 as the trademark for a pure and nutritional infant food milk. Joseph Nathan had emigrated to Australia in the mid C19, and in 1904, had set up the Defiance dried milk factory in New Zealand, making use of the country's milk surplus. His sons took the business to England, and by 1911 Glaxo had become a household name in Britain, producing 'The Food that Builds Bonnie Babies'. The company grew to research and produce vitamin supplements and well known products such as Ostermilk, Farex and Farley's rusks, while on the pharmaceutical side it pioneered the production of internationally significant drugs such as penicillin, cortisone and veterinary vaccines.

By the mid-1930s Wallis Gilbert & Partners were well-established commercial architects, with a pedigree of factories behind them, and was the obvious choice for the new company, which apparently found it difficult to provide a clear brief and working model for the factory. Glaxo Laboratories Ltd contribute to a notable group of their buildings, all listed Grade II, which line the western inter-war arterial routes into London. These include Westlink House (1928), the former Coty factory (1933), and former Simmonds Aerocessories building of 1936 and 1937-42 on the Great West Road. Close to Greenford, facing the A40 is the former Hoover Factory (1932-5, Grade II*). The 1928 Firestone factory, also on the Great West Road, was demolished in 1980.

In plan the buildings comprised a long administrative, research and office block facing Greenford Road, backed by the factory buildings, and the powerhouse. The factory itself was laid out on two floors, with manufacturing and preparation processes on the first floor, finished products being despatched from the ground floor. The factory was divided into two main sections, namely the pharmaceutical (north wing) and food divisions (south wing). 'Everywhere the planning ideal was to obtain the maximum amount of space, light and air for each worker, with the result that all parts of the factory convey a pleasing effect of lightness and cleanliness.' (Building, 1936, 164-5). The factory addressed the topical interest in providing a healthy work environment and was noted for its practical layout, finishes and flooring, appropriate to each function. At the south-west corner of the site was a canteen and tennis courts, overlooking the canal, taking advantage of the 'open and countrified nature of the site'. (ibid, 165).

SOURCES Faber, Oscar, Planning Industrial Buildings, Architectural Record of Design & Construction, Factories and Industrial Buildings Supplement (June 1937) Skinner, J., Form and Fancy, Factories and Factory Buildings by Wallis, Gilbert & Partners, 1916-1939, (nd, post 1985) Gold on the Green, Fifty Glaxo Years at Greenford, Glaxo Pharmaceuticals Ltd(1986) Architecture Illustrated, April (1936) The Glaxo Laboratories, Greenford, Building, April (1936),162-5

REASONS FOR DESIGNATION The front ranges (blocks 1 and 2) of former Glaxo Laboratories Ltd, 1935 by Wallis Gilbert & Partners, are recommended for listing at Grade II for the following principal reasons: * Architectural: frontispiece to purpose-built headquarters and factory by a practice noted for its inter-war factory buildings; the restrained but well-detailed entrance reflects the efficient, functional ethos of the company. * Rarity: one of a small surviving group of prominently-sited Wallis Gilbert factories, designed by this major firm to face the new arterial roads approaching London; * Historical: first purpose-built headquarters and factory for the expanding well-known and early C20 company, Glaxo, combining administration, research, food production and pharmaceuticals on one site, while addressing the topical interest in providing a healthy work environment.


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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

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