Former Boots shop, subscription library and tearoom, built in 1905-7 to the designs of A. N. Bromley.
Reasons for Designation
The Embankment, a former Boots shop, subscription library and tearoom built in 1905-7 to the designs of A. N. Bromley, is listed at Grade II for the following principal reasons:
* Architectural interest: it is a distinctive and well composed building in the Tudoresque style with high quality materials and detailing;
* Interior: it is a notable example of the eclectic style typical of the Edwardian period which embodies fine craftsmanship with the use of good quality materials;
* Architect: it represents the accomplished work of a talented and confident architect whose output is already well represented on the List;
* Historic interest: it has historic interest as Boots Store No. 2, the company’s second purpose-built shop, and as an embodiment of a Victorian commercial enterprise that has remained successful to the present day;
* Rarity: it is a rare surviving example of a Boots shop with incorporated library and tearoom;
* Intactness: the original plan form remains largely intact, and it retains a good proportion of its first-floor windows, doors, joinery and internal fittings.
The Embankment was built in 1905-7 as Nottingham’s Boots Store No. 2, following the company’s flagship shop in Pelham Street (1903-4). The shops were built by Jesse Boot (1850-1931) who was born in Nottingham. His father, John Boot, had been an agricultural labourer in Radcliffe-on-Trent but due to ill health he became a purveyor of herbal medicines in Nottingham, helped by his wife Mary. After John’s death, Jesse began to assist his mother and by the age of twenty-one he became a partner and the business was known as ‘Mary & Jesse Boot – Herbalists’. Jesse’s ethos was to sell large quantities of stock as cheaply as possible and he also branched out into non-medicinal products. After Mary’s retirement in the late 1870s, Jesse took sole charge of the business, expanding it first in Nottingham and then nationally. He and his wife Florence also took a keen interest in the welfare of their employees, providing works canteens where they could obtain food at reasonable prices and organising activities outside working hours. In 1909 Jesse Boot received a knighthood in recognition of his outstanding success and in 1928 he became a peer of the realm, assuming the title of Lord Trent. He was known for his philanthropic activities in Nottingham, such as giving £50,000 to the Nottingham General Hospital and donating land on which to establish Nottingham University.
The Boots No. 2 Store was designed by Albert Nelson Bromley (1850-1934), a Scottish-born architect who practised in Nottingham, initially in partnership with his uncle Frederick Bakewell. Amongst their earliest assignments were Huntingdon Street Board School (1874) and Victoria Buildings (1875-6), Nottingham City Council’s first venture into housing, now listed at Grade II as Park View Apartments. Bromley soon set up his own practice, becoming architect to the Nottingham School Board, Tramway Company, National Telephone Company and Boots, for which he also designed their flagship store on Pelham Street, which is listed at Grade II. Altogether Bromley has eight buildings on the List, most of which are civic. Another prominent architect, Percy Richard Morley Horder (1870-1944) was involved in the design of The Embankment, specifically having responsibility for the stained glass. Morley Horder went on to become an architect to Boots, and it was through his friendship with Jesse Boot that he obtained the commission to design the buildings at University College, Nottingham from 1922-28. He also designed a house for David Lloyd George at Walton Heath, Surrey, and has six buildings on the List.
The Boots Store No. 2 consisted of a shop with various function rooms. The shop occupied the east corner and above this the neo-Classical style room was very probably the subscription library called the Boots Booklovers' Library. This was a feature of Boots premier stores. The large room occupying the west corner is likely to have been a tearoom for customers, whilst the adjacent Arts and Crafts style room is believed to have been Jesse Boot’s office. In 1921 the Mens’ Institute (for Boots Company workers) moved into the premises and in 1930 a large extension, including a billiard room, was built onto the south-west end, formerly occupied by the tea gardens. The shop closed in 1978, and in 1990 a conservatory was added on the north-west side. The building reopened in November 2015 after a renovation.
Former Boots shop, subscription library and tearoom, built in 1905-7 to the designs of A. N. Bromley.
MATERIALS: applied timber framing with red brick and tile hanging, and red clay tile roof covering.
PLAN: the building occupies a corner plot facing north-east onto Arkwright Street and south-east onto Turney Street and has an approximately square plan.
The extension on the rear south-west elevation dating to 1930, and the late-C20, single-storey extension with adjoining conservatory along the north-west elevation do not have special interest and are excluded from the listing. The extension on the north-west section is not shown on the current Ordnance Survey map.
EXTERIOR: the two-storey building is in the Tudor style. It has irregular elevations and a complex, steeply pitched roofscape with tall brick ridge stacks. The north-east elevation has panel framing to a jettied upper floor, which has a panelled soffit and is carried out on timber posts forming an arcade. This originally provided shelter above the ground-floor shop windows, which were later removed. New window frames that are thought to be similar in design to the originals were reinstated in 2015. These have plate glass with a single transom and mullion. The elevation is dominated by a large gabled bay on the left hand side which has plain bargeboards and multiple bracing in the gable head. The first floor is lit by a pair of canted oriel Ipswich windows with moulded frames and decorative leaded lights, supported by carved brackets. The lights either side of the central arch are filled with painted glass depicting the coats of arms of numerous English kings. Above the oriels there is a horizontal window of six leaded lights. At ground-floor level, to the right is a double-leaf entrance door which has two moulded panels and a semi-circular overlight with radial glazing bars and painted glass spandrels. The first floor is lit by a two-light stained glass window, followed by two eight-light casement windows with decorative leaded lights and a transom.
The applied panel framing is continued for the first two bays of the south-east elevation. The corner of the building is distinguished by a hexagonal turret, terminating in a slender finial, and lit on the first floor by two tiers of casement windows similar to those on the north-east elevation. The gabled bay to the right has an oriel window in the same style as those already described, and a five-light horizontal window above. The ground floor of these two bays has modern windows in the same style as those described on the north-east elevation. To the left are two gabled bays which are of brick on the ground floor, a combination of plain and fishscale tile hanging on the first floor, and timber bracing in the gable heads. The right-hand of these two gabled bays bay is lit on the ground floor by a five-light window with stained glass depicting stylised wreaths, whilst the left-hand bay has a large archway with a glazed, multi-pane upper half. Both bays have an oriel window at first-floor level with five-light casements above. To the left is a slightly set back, plainer section which has a door and a five-light casement window to the right. The first floor has tile-hanging and is lit by a two-light and a five-light casement window.
INTERIOR: this has an eclectic but predominantly Arts and Crafts character with exposed wood of a rich, warm hue. The principal areas of interest are the large ground-floor room and smaller room above, both in Arts and Crafts style, and the large first-floor room in the neo-Classical style. The entrance door on the north-east elevation opens into a large double-height room which gives the impression of a medieval open hall. It is divided into four bays by roof trusses with arched braces resting on principal posts. The room has a canted ceiling with closely spaced rafters and the top is divided by moulded glazing bars into square panes with leaded lights which are painted with two large, delicately detailed oval wreaths. Along the south-east side is a built-in panelled serving counter and bar. The south-west end has a double-leaf door divided by glazing bars into square panes. This is set in a curved recess with a semi-circular overlight, and is flanked by full-height glazing, also divided into square panes. Presumably this once led into the tea garden but now leads into the later extension.
The open well stair, which rises from the north-east corner of the 'open hall', has a quarter turn and a panelled soffit. The closed string is embellished with a dentilled course. The elaborately carved square newel posts are surmounted by finials of different designs, and the turned balusters have intermittent panels containing a geometric design and a pierced upper section of carved fruit and foliage. The stairwell is lit by an octagonal lantern with leaded lights which have painted glass with delicate swag and wreath motifs.
On the landing are two doors of different styles, hinting at the contrasting styles of the two rooms beyond. The exposed wooden door on the left has three long moulded panels with glazed upper panels containing a heart motif, a brass door plate with pierced, stylised floral design, and a shouldered surround. This leads into the Arts and Crafts room believed to have been Jessie Boot’s office which has a bridging beam and joists, and three-quarter height panelling divided into long rectangular panels and shorter panels above. The south-west end of the room has a canted oriel window overlooking the 'open hall' below. On either side are the original radiators enclosed in boxes with front grilles. One side of the room has two fitted benches, and the opposite side has an inglenook with close studding. The rubbed brick fireplace has a segmental arch opening with Delft-style tiles and a wooden mantelpiece. It is flanked by built-in shelves and benches, and is lit by a bright painted window depicting a bridge over a river, a timber framed house and trees. The windows overlooking the road each have a stained glass flower in the upper pane.
The glazed double leaf doors on the right of the landing have long brass plates along the shutting style and bottom rail, and lead into the large neo-Classical style room which has white painted joinery. The room has a canted ceiling with side purlins and is divided into four bays by segmental arches springing from the entablature which runs around the walls and has a dentilled cornice and frieze with guttae. The bays form four alcoves along the external south-east wall which are separated by two square outer columns and a semi-circular headed window with leaded lights and radial glazing bars, beneath which are incorporated original radiators. The alcoves are lit by the oriel windows. On the south-west wall there is a door in a shouldered surround and two large square openings which lead into a bar area and modern kitchen. The central opening is surmounted by a swan neck pediment, whilst the second opening does not appear to be original.
The ground-floor shop (on the south-east side of the 'open hall') has lost all of its original fittings, except for a strip of square panelling on the ceiling. During the renovation it was possible to see part of a bridging beam and joist under the inserted ceiling.