Acocks Green Police Station and former courthouse

Overview

Heritage Category:
Listed Building
Grade:
II
List Entry Number:
1459333
Date first listed:
19-Aug-2019
Statutory Address:
Yardley Road, Birmingham, B27 6ER

Map

Ordnance survey map of Acocks Green Police Station and former courthouse
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Location

Statutory Address:
Yardley Road, Birmingham, B27 6ER

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

District:
Birmingham (Metropolitan Authority)
Parish:
Non Civil Parish
National Grid Reference:
SP1236883639

Summary

A police station and incorporated court house for Worcestershire Police, constructed in 1909 to designs by Alfred Vernon Rowe (1881-1940), County Architect.

Reasons for Designation

Acock’s Green Police Station and former courthouse, built in 1909 to designs by the county architect, Alfred Vernon Rowe, is listed at Grade II, for the following principal reasons:

Architectural interest:

*  for its interesting and dignified Queen Anne style composition, with well-articulated elevations, which are deftly handled and well executed; the building responds well to its site with an impressive octagonal corner turret; *   the principal elevations have extensive, well-detailed brick and terracotta work, including the arms of the county of Worcestershire, for whom it was erected; * the plan of police station, cells, court rooms and houses, with their separate entrances, remains clearly legible, as does the circulation between the various functions; * the interior retains its custody area with cells, police offices and lobby, and the layout of the former houses; * although the court room fittings have been removed, the details of the doorcases, external entrances, stair and wall treatments clearly mark the former rooms associated with the court functions, including the court room and retiring room.

Historic interest:   *   as an example of a complex municipal building which housed the functions of police station, magistrates’ court and police residences.

History

The police station and incorporated courthouse on Yardley Road was constructed in 1909, to designs by the county architect, Alfred Vernon Rowe. The previous police station, designed by Rowe’s father Alfred Burnett Rowe during his own time as county architect, was no longer adequate; but the primary driver was the fact that the closest court house, in Sparkhill, was not sufficient to cover the needs of the Yardley area in addition. By March 1908, Worcestershire Police had instructed the county architect to draw up plans for a new, combined police station and court house. The building was constructed on a prominent site at the corner of Yardley Road and Alexander Road, the corner marked by a polygonal turret rising above the height of the building; it incorporated the police station, three police houses at the Alexander Road end, and a wing to the rear including the courthouse and cells. In about 1921, a small, detached fire station (not part of this assessment) was erected on an adjacent plot in Alexander Road, which remained in use until 1993, after which it was sold and its use changed to offices.

Acock’s Green Police Station continued in its original use until 2018, though the police houses had by that time since been incorporated into the main building; the former courthouse had been converted to offices, and the former cells to ancillary uses, with some limited reordering.

Details

A police station and incorporated courthouse for Worcestershire Police, constructed in 1909 to designs by Alfred Vernon Rowe (1881-1940), County Architect.

MATERIALS: red brick, laid in English bond, and terracotta; brick and terracotta stacks, and plain clay tile roofs.

PLAN: the building forms a rough T-plan, with some small additions; the main range runs north-south along Yardley Road. The long rear wing was formerly the court house and cells, the branch of the main range to the centre and south was occupied by the police station, and the northern end was occupied by three police houses, all now incorporated into the police station.

EXTERIOR: the buildings, of two storeys, are in a Queen Anne domestic revival style; there is extensive terracotta detailing articulating the principal elevations, including moulded window and door surrounds, keystones, pediments, aprons, pilasters, dentils and moulded cartouches. The windows have all been replaced in uPVC, their design attempting to echo the original multi-paned sashes . The long, main range to Yardley Road is broadly symmetrical, with an additional corner turret to the right. The five-bay entrance has a central, three-windowed pedimented bay with paired Ionic pilasters and a large, segmental-arched window opening; the pediment has a cartouche containing the coat of arms for Worcestershire. The flanking projecting entrance bays – one giving access to the police station, the other to the former courthouse – have rusticated brickwork to the ground floor, semi-circular arched doorways with double, panelled doors, moulded cill band and broken semi-circular pediments with finials, and cartouches with AD and 1909. To either side are three bays, the central one a full-height canted bay with parapet projecting above the eaves, all clad in terracotta with depressed panels between floors; the bays to either side have central triangular pediments breaking above the dentilled eaves and forming part of window surrounds, with segmental-arched pediments to the corresponding ground-floor windows. The left-hand end has no doorways; the right-hand has a recessed entrance porch to paired doorways giving access to two of the former police houses. The right-hand end returns around the corner into Alexander Road; the corner is marked by an octagonal corner turret of three storeys, the upper storey breaking above the eaves, with keyed oculi to each face, and a dome above. The three-bay right return has an entrance to the third former police house, with elaborately-moulded overdoor. The left return continues the dentil eaves over three first-floor windows and a single more elaborate window to the ground floor. Terracotta cill bands extend across the main elevation and both returns. The roofs are hipped, with ridge finials.

The rear of the building is much plainer, and built in a less even, red-buff brick. There are simply-moulded eaves details, and the windows mainly have rubbed-brick voussoirs, with some stone lintels with chamfers to the openings. The rear of the paired police houses have projecting wings, each with a ground-floor canted bay window under stone lintels, with paired rectangular windows above. The north side has its original lean-to extension housing three openings; the other side has a second-storey addition. The rear of the southern range has a projecting two-storey wing including a subsidiary doorway, which continues parallel to the mind range as a single storey with a flat roof.

The two-storey courthouse wing projects to the rear, forming a T-plan with the main range; the cells occupied the ground floor, and the court room and associated functions above. The final two bays are set slightly lower, with a half-hipped roof. The range terminates on the south side with a projecting flat-roofed bay with an external doorway leading to a stair rising directly to the suite of court rooms. The segmental-arched doorway with a rubbed-brick arch has a brick and terracotta pedimented surround with brick pilasters and terracotta Ionic capitals with egg and dart mouldings. The first floor has high, paired windows to the former court room, and smaller windows to the ancillary rooms. The ground floor has smaller, segmental-arched openings to the cells, housing glass-brick windows in thick-barred matrices. A lean-to car port of corrugated metal on metal posts stands against the southern elevation. The northern elevation is similar, but terminates with a large stack rising from a lean-to boiler house.

INTERIOR: the former police station is laid out on a corridor plan, with rooms to front and rear off a central passageway. The rooms are plain, with skirtings the only historic joinery; all have inserted, suspended ceilings. Behind the entrance porch is the stair hall; the stair a closed-string open-well flight with turned newel, ball finial and turned balusters; the area beneath the stair is panelled. The reception lobby to which the porch leads has a late-C20 counter and associated fittings. The first floor has similar layout, with some later subdivisions.

The second ground-floor entrance in the main range, for the court house, gives access into a porch and self-contained stair hall; the open-string, dog-leg stair has a slender, turned newel post, with two spiral, iron balusters to each tread. The toadsback handrail is ramped as the stair turns. The first-floor landing has been modified. The first-floor rooms above the entrance bay, and the court house wing extending to the rear, retain more elaborate joinery. A wide opening off the landing has a moulded, eared doorcase with panelling, and a ramped cornice above. Ancillary rooms have bolection moulded architraves. The former court room has been subdivided with lightweight partitions. At the western end of the former courtroom, two steps rise into the rear rooms, via an eared, pedimented doorcase with panelling, into a retiring room, formerly with a corner fireplace (since removed). Adjoining this is a small lobby with access into a former lavatory, with walls tiled to picture rail height. The lobby gives access to a stone stair which turns through 90 degrees and rises from the external entrance in the southern elevation, giving direct access from the street to the retiring room. The staircase has spiral iron balusters and a wreathed curtail. The lobby in which it emerges has fitted cupboards. The stair from the cells to the court room has been removed, but may have been sited along the northern side of the range. The ground floor is now accessed from the ground floor of the police station range. The cells retain their layout, though some have been adopted for other uses.

The former police houses largely retain their historic plan form. The paired houses entered from Yardley Road form a mirror pair, with two rooms to the front range, each formerly with a corner fireplace (since removed), a stair hall to the rear and a former larder and good room in the rear wing. One of the pair has had its stair removed, though the location is legible, and a single doorway has been opened up between the hallways of the two houses on the ground floor. The other house retains its stair, and its larder is still fitted out with shelving on moulded brackets and a low, slate shelf for cold goods. The third house is accessed from Alexander Road; the interior was not accessible at the time of inspection, but plans show that the layout remains, with a central entrance hall giving access to each of four rooms on the ground floor. To the first floor, the paired houses have been opened up in the rear wing, removing the wall between the two rear bedrooms. The first floor of the third house appears largely unaltered.

SUBSIDIARY FEATURES: the plot is bounded to Yardley Road is bounded by low brick WALLS with triangular section terracotta coping; the walls return to bound paths to the doorways in the main elevation, ramping up alongside the steps to the entrances. These have been modified by the addition of a gently-sloping ramp to the police station entrance in the later C20. The walls curve around the corner with Alexander Road to provide a similar entrance to the house on the return.

Sources

Books and journals
'Late Colonel A V Rowe (obituary)' in The Architects' Journal, , Vol. 91, (15 February 1940), 180
Other
Worcestershire Police: new station and court house for Acock’s Green, in Birmingham Daily Gazette, 23 March 1908, p. 6

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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