Tower Garage

Overview

Heritage Category:
Listed Building
Grade:
II
List Entry Number:
1404737
Date first listed:
06-Jun-2012
Location Description:
Statutory Address:
Tower Garage, Wilmslow Road, Alderley Edge, Cheshire

Map

Ordnance survey map of Tower Garage
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Location

Statutory Address:
Tower Garage, Wilmslow Road, Alderley Edge, Cheshire

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

Location Description:
District:
Cheshire East (Unitary Authority)
Parish:
Alderley Edge
National Grid Reference:
SJ8427678694

Summary

Former petrol station, offices and car showroom, 1962, by Berkeley Moir, reinforced concrete and timber, single-storey, Mid-century Modernist style, now a New York-style Deli

Reasons for Designation

Tower Garage is listed at Grade II for the following principal reasons:

* Architectural quality: a highly distinctive rotunda design with a striking, saucer-shaped canopy roof structure that provides a strong architectural and aesthetic statement, as well as practicality, and is illustrative of the use of exciting roof shapes in this period

* Apposite modern design: its space-age inspired design reflects the influence of America and its popular culture during the 1950s and 60s, embodying the technological bravura and spirit of the space age. In a wider context it also reflects the modernity of motoring and the motor car in the mid C20, and the sense of adventure, freedom and independence that the car symbolised at this time

* Rarity of building type: a rare surviving example of an architect-designed petrol station and motor car showroom of the early 1960s

* Degree of survival: the dynamic form remains intact despite some later alteration and key features, including the saucer-shaped canopy, original timber window frames, cladding and doors, and four original circular skylights mirroring the shape of the rotunda, all survive

History

Tower Garage was constructed in 1962 to the designs of Berkeley Moir, a Rochdale architect who along with his wife, Winifred formed the partnership of Moir & Bateman. The garage was originally built as a Total filling station, offices and car showroom and replaced an earlier garage built in 1919. The building was commissioned by the Total Oil Company in collaboration with the owner, Paul Higham, as a showpiece to market their petrol and oil in the UK.

The garage's petrol pumps were originally an attendant-only service, but this was quickly superseded by self-service pumps. It has been suggested that the building's design was possibly influenced by a building in the owner's home country of Iran, although this has not been confirmed. In an interview with the Rochdale Observer in 2005, Mr Moir said that with regard to the building's design he had no goal in mind "apart from creating something different".

The petrol station ceased use c1978 and the petrol pumps were subsequently removed. The building remained in use as a car showroom and offices until 2011 when it was converted into a New York-style deli.

Details

PLAN: The building is set back from the roadside on a large forecourt and has a circular plan formed of a central rotunda with a saucer-shaped canopy above.

EXTERIOR: Tower Garage consists of a reinforced concrete rotunda incorporating large glazed panels set within timber frames with timber cladding above and below. All the timberwork is painted black. The rotunda incorporates a projection to the west side with a central doorway. Further entrances with large, concertina-style, glazed timber doors exist to the north-east and south-east corners, which originally allowed cars to be moved in and out of the showroom. The glazing to the west projection was originally convex, but this has since been replaced by flat panes. Above the rotunda, and forming its roof, is a massive, saucer-shaped, reinforced concrete canopy that extends upwards and outwards and is supported by a series of painted reinforced concrete columns within the rotunda interior, but is cantilevered externally. Six petrol pumps were originally arranged around the building underneath the canopy to shelter motorists, but these were removed in the late 1970s. A series of strip lights that were originally located to the underside of the canopy have also been removed. Above the canopy and hidden from view is a secondary, early C21, pitched roof constructed of felt and wooden battens that has been added to prevent leaks.

INTERIOR: Originally the rotunda was subdivided internally by partition walls, with sales and administrative offices located at the front of the building and a showroom to the rear. The internal walls and original teak and mahogany sales kiosk have all been removed, along with toilets, and a later inserted suspended ceiling. The original linoleum floor has been replaced by a terrazzo floor and a modern, circular deli counter has been installed to the centre of the rotunda. The ceiling incorporates a series of four, original circular skylights to the western side; it is believed that originally there were approximately eight skylights and that some have since been blocked-up.

Sources

Books and journals
Architecture and the 'Special Relationship'. The American Influence on Post-War British Architecture, (2007)
Holder, J, Parissien, S, The Architecture of British Transport in the Twentieth Century, (2004)
Holt, H, 'Motor Trader' in Total Progress In The North, (19 December 1962)
Holt, H, 'Motor Trader' in North of the Trent, (27 June 1962)
Other
Road Transport Buildings. A Report by RCHME for the English Heritage Post-1939 Listing Programme. By T Calladine & K Morrison. January 1998.,
Rochdale Observer newspaper article, 23 September 2005, entitled 'Berkeley is going back to the future',

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

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