Former Worcester Cross Factory and Offices, and weaving sheds
- Heritage Category:
- Listed Building
- List Entry Number:
- Date first listed:
- Statutory Address:
- 41 Worcester Street, Kidderminster, Worcestershire, DY10 1EW
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- Statutory Address:
- 41 Worcester Street, Kidderminster, Worcestershire, DY10 1EW
The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.
- Wyre Forest (District Authority)
- Non Civil Parish
- National Grid Reference:
Former carpet factory and offices built in 1878-1879 for H R Willis and designed, in the Queen Anne Revival style, by the architect J G Bland of Birmingham. Owned by Woodward, Grosvenor and Company from 1883. Late C19 additions. Not included in the listing are the mid-C20 single-storey addition to the north-west end of the principal elevation, the mid-C20 extensions to the rear range, and the mid-C20 detached, single-storey building to the rear (north-east).
Reasons for Designation
The former Worcester Cross Factory and Offices, Worcester Street, Kidderminster is listed at Grade II for the following principal reasons:
* designed by the architect J G Bland, a prominent and influential architect particularly within the context of Kidderminster’s carpet industry, it is an unusual example of his work, and of carpet factories more generally, in the Queen Anne Revival style; * the architecturally impressive principal façade is well-handled with good quality craftsmanship exhibited in the gauged brickwork and red terracotta dressings, and is unaltered; * internally, there is a good level of survival, with a high proportion of surviving historic fabric including much of the original joinery. Of particular note are the staircase and the barrel-vaulted ceiling to the stairwell and the former showroom with its decorative corbels supporting the moulded roof trusses; * the legibility of the original plan form with offices to either side of a central stairwell, packing rooms to the basement, and a first-floor showroom to the rear; * the survival of the weaving sheds, a distinctive feature of the textile industry that is becoming increasingly rare.
* for its illustration of the C19 carpet industry in Kidderminster, an important aspect of the nation’s industrial, social and economic history; * for its association with prominent carpet manufacturing companies in Kidderminster.
* it has group value with a number of mills within Kidderminster including many designed by J G Bland, and in particular Stour Vales Mills (Grade II) with which it has some inter-visibility and later formed the joint premises of Woodward, Grovesnor and Company.
Worcester Cross Works on Oxford Street was established as a carpet factory in 1852 for James Holmes. It was sold to H R Willis, Potter and Company in 1869 and, in 1878, following the departure of Potter from the partnership to form his own company, Willis decided to expand the business. The Worcester Cross Factory and Offices, designed by the architect J G Bland, were built in 1878-1879, directly opposite the existing works. Bland (1828/9–1898) designed a number of carpet factories in Kidderminster including Stour Vale Mills (1855), Waterside Mill (1862), Moreton’s Factory (1870) and Barton’s Factory (1872).
By 1883 Willis’ company, known for producing Brussels carpets, had become unprofitable and to raise capital he sold Worcester Cross Factory and Offices to Woodward, Grosvenor and Company, who were based at Stour Vale Mills, becoming the sole owners in 1892. They used Worcester Cross Factory and Offices primarily as their main offices and showroom and added the two-storey extension along the street frontage. The weaving sheds appear to have been extended at this time.
In 1971 the Worcester Cross Factory and Offices were sold to the borough council, and part of the main building was converted to house the Magistrates' Court with the remaining premises used as office accommodation for various council departments. The weaving sheds to the rear became a covered market until the mid-1990s. In the mid-2000s the law courts moved to a new site.
Former carpet factory and offices built in 1878-9 for H R Willis and designed, in the Queen Anne Revival style, by the architect J G Bland of Birmingham. Owned by Woodward, Grosvenor and Company from 1883. Late C19 additions. Not included in the listing are the mid-C20 single-storey addition to the north-west end of the principal elevation, the mid-C20 extensions to the rear range, and the mid-C20 detached, single-storey building to the rear (north-east).
MATERIALS: built of red brick laid in Flemish bond, (the rear range is laid in English Bond) with plain clay tiles to the roof. The side walls of the gabled dormers have plain clay wall tiles. Timber sash windows with margin glazing set in brick surrounds of gauged brickwork, with stone cills. The lower storey windows have segmental heads; those to the upper storey have flat-arched heads. Brick chimney stacks. Gauged brickwork and red terracotta dressings.
The brick weaving sheds have cast-iron columns and tie beams and the roof is covered in glazed panels and corrugated asbestos.
PLAN: the principal elevation to the south west, fronting Worcester Street, is an eleven bay, linear range of three storeys with a basement and attic. It has a central doorway and wagon entrances to either end. Internally, offices are to either side of the central stairwell with packing rooms to the basement. To the left of the principal range is a late-C19 seven bay, two-storey extension, with basement and attic, (connected to the earlier building internally). The rear range, extending to the north-east from the principal range, gives the building an L-shaped plan and has a first-floor showroom. Between the front and rear range are the north-lit weaving sheds. To the north-eastern extent of the site are the remains of the boiler house and chimney; the engine house has been demolished.
EXTERIOR: the principal elevation (south-west) is arranged as 1:4:1:4:1 bays. It has moulded band courses and the outer and central bays are slightly set forward with Dutch gables rising above the eaves cornice. There is an oculus to each tympanum with three narrow windows beneath. The basement level, beneath the raised ground floor, is set forward in line with the outer and central bays and has split-level windows. The outer bays have wide round-arched wagon entrances with pairs of sash windows beneath segmental heads to the two storeys above. The central bay forms the stairwell and has a round-arched doorway of three orders, a three-light, mullion-style window, a recessed rectangular plaque, and a large three-light window with glazing bars beneath a semi-circular window with radial glazing bars.
To the left of the principal range is a late-C19 addition and its street frontage continues the line of the set-forward basement level, and the moulded plat band of the earlier building. The off-centre door has a fanlight with an applied decorative metal grille, and is set within a round-arched doorway of three orders with a Dutch-style gable. Beneath the pediment is a panel. It has C20 rooflights.
INTERIOR: the basement is a series of connected rooms with brick floors. One room retains a single cast-iron column and a wooden lift operated using a rope-pulley system. A brick staircase leads to the ground floor above; the stairwell is lined with tiles laid in English garden wall bond.
The principal entrance hall, set below the raised ground floor, has been modified with a terrazzo floor, wall panelling and the insertion of a small section of 1930s Art Deco style staircase with a metal balustrade. The original open-well staircase continues from the ground floor to the upper floors and has a decorative cast iron balustrade and carved wooden handrail, as well as a moulded wall string, and a plaster cornice to its underside. The stairwell has a coffered barrel-vaulted ceiling with a moulded cornice. The lower stair window has Doric pilasters and a classical entablature.
Each landing gives access, via a moulded segmental arch, to the former offices to either side of the stairwell. The offices retain their C19 skirting boards and cornices, and some also retain their fireplaces, doors and architraves. The second-floor corridor has a full-height, moulded round arch towards the south-east end and the rooms have a panelled ceiling. Within the bays to the north-west of the stairwell, at ground and first floor level, are cast-iron columns.
The rooms in the late-C19 addition are plainer.
The first-floor showroom in the rear range is accessed from a 1930s Art Deco style staircase with dado-height panelling. The former showroom has moulded arch-braced roof trusses supported on stone corbels, each individually carved with different birds. The ceiling is panelled between the trusses.
FORMER WEAVING SHEDS: the north-lit weaving sheds have a saw-tooth roof profile. The south side of the roof is covered with glazed panels separated by glazing bars and the north side is covered in corrugated asbestos; it is faced with timber boards internally. The roof is supported on cast-iron columns and fish belly tie beams by F Bradley of Kidderminster that widen in profile towards the centre for greater strength. They have a wide section to the centre of the lower flange to which line-shaft hangers were fixed. The floor has been covered in concrete beneath which are the remains of blue bricks. To the gable ends are round ventilation windows with metal radial glazing bars.
Books and journals
Pevsner, N, Brooks, A, The Buildings of England: Worcestershire, (2007), 405, 411-13
Thompson, M, Mills & Tall Chimneys of Kidderminster, (2012), 6, 87-8
Thompson, M , Woven in Kidderminster, (2002), 169-72
Goff, A D, 'The Development of the Carpet Works of Kidderminster 1735-1939'. Dissertation, University of Birmingham/Ironbridge International Institute for Cultural Heritage
This building is listed under the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990 as amended for its special architectural or historic interest.
The listed building is shown coloured blue on the attached map. Pursuant to s1 (5A) of the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990 (‘the Act’) structures attached to or within the curtilage of the listed building but not coloured blue on the map, are not to be treated as part of the listed building for the purposes of the Act. However, any works to these structures which have the potential to affect the character of the listed building as a building of special architectural or historic interest may still require Listed Building Consent (LBC) and this is a matter for the Local Planning Authority (LPA) to determine.
End of official listing