A borough police station and section house, built in 1939 to the designs of Gilbert Mackenzie Trench.
Reasons for Designation
The former Tooting Police Station, Mitcham Road and adjoining Trevor Bingham Section House, Ascot Road, Tooting, built in 1939 to the designs of Gilbert Mackenzie Trench, are listed at Grade II for the following principal reasons:
* the building is designed to make a striking impression in its outline but is also well detailed with attention to interesting and subtle patterns of brick bonding, careful use of tiles and ashlar dressings and notable survival of original material;
* there is notable survival of original material, principally externally, but also internally, notwithstanding some relatively minor alterations.
* the building reflects the period of transition in which it was built, featuring much of the new technology and domestic expectations of a police station and section house of the late 1930s in its planning;
* it is a good representative of the advanced police statons built as a result of the General Rebuilding Programme under the Metropolitan Commissioner, Lord Trenchard for which Mackenzie Trench was the principal architect;
* the survival of much of the original plan shows that the design anticipated patterns of activity and transitions over the following decades.
The former Tooting Police Station was located on the west side of Mitcham Road, but the force outgrew this station which housed twelve men. Gilbert Mackenzie Trench, who was the Police Surveyor at the time, was commissioned to design a new, larger station and section house which was completed in July 1939 on the east side of the street, almost opposite its predecessor. Trench was Surveyor & Architect to the Metropolitan Police from 1920 to 1945. He worked within the Receiver’s Office and is probably best known for his Police Box design which has become more popularly associated with the BBC TV programme Dr Who as his ‘Tardis’. Under the auspices of Lord Trenchard, Commissioner of the Metropolis (1931-1935), government support and funding was secured for a General Rebuilding Programme. This was an extensive modernisation scheme from 1935 and included the full range of police buildings.
A police station with divisional offices and section house, built in 1939 to the designs of Gilbert Mackenzie Trench with Walter Lawrence Ltd as contractors.
MATERIALS & PLAN: steel frame with concrete casings and solid slab floors. External walls are of buff brick laid in English bond and header bond, with Portland stone dressings and metal-framed casements set in wood frames. The six-storey building has a butterfly, or X-shaped plan with diagonal wings projecting towards the principal compass points and a central hub containing the entrance and staircase tower. The public entrance front faces north-west towards Mitcham Road and the section house faces south-east and runs parallel to Ascot Road. The section house has accommodation for eighty men with twelve sets of married quarters, each with independent access. The basement had stabling, a garage, a gymnasium and parade room. At ground floor level were canteens for different ranks, cells, offices, charge room and desk and a central office with a domed ceiling. Upper floors had offices and bedrooms, with external balconies placed in front of the living rooms of married quarters. The section house to the east had a billiards room and library as well as a common room and dining room at ground floor level with bedrooms above.
EXTERIOR: the symmetrical front to Mitcham Road has flush bands of Portland stone across the basement and ground floors and above the first floor. At the centre is a projecting staircase tower and in front of the central doorway is a segmental apron or platform above the basement, approached by short flights of steps to the centre and sides. The door surround is of stone with moulded edges and incorporates a royal coat of arms over the door, carved by ER Broadbent. Above this a tall staircase window with etched panels extends upwards for two floors and is crowned by a balcony with stone balustrade which connects with the broader balconies at the centre of the front on the upper three floors. Above the central window, inscribed in the stone is the wording ‘TOOTING / POLICE STATION’. Joining the staircase tower to the angled wings at the basement and ground-floor level are convex projections with brick walling laid in header bond and square windows with projecting stone frames. The balconies have inset, flush bands of tiles and the tops of the walls have soldier courses which match the window lintels across the front. Roof tiles laid horizontally in alternate courses also form ventilation grille covers across the front. The angled wings at either side have three bays to each floor, either with three-light casements or, at the centre, two lights.
The rear of the block facing Mitcham Road also has angled wings to either side. The basement is exposed and the external walling there and to the ground floor is of ashlar. The centre of the front is recessed and has a projecting curved bay at ground floor with a domed roof set with small circular skylights. Windows across the front are two or three-light casements with metal frames, as seen on the Mitcham Road front.
The Section House faces east onto Ascot Road. It has blank walling at basement level, topped by a band of Portland stone. Above this the ground floor has full-height windows and is divided from the upper floors by flush bands of Portland stone with inset soldier course of bricks. The four upper floors have seven bays of metal-framed windows, each of three lights. The top storey has inset stone bands at the level of the window sills and lintels. Projecting to the right are three bays with a central, ground-floor doorway which is approached by a double flight of steps. This has a Portland stone surround with channelled rustication and a semi-circular canopy above the doorway. Above this the upper floors have a central recessed panel with three-light casements and single-light windows to either side. The left-hand end of the block has a broad, semi-circular bow with five bays of windows and balconies across the central three windows of the upper four storeys.
INTERIOR: the entrance lobby leads to an imperial staircase, rising in one flight and returning in two. Treads and guard walls are covered with terrazzo, as are the passage floors and dado panels lining the lower walls at ground and first-floor levels. The outline of the original plan survives, although some spaces have been subdivided. Original fittings include joinery and doors and door furniture and some fireplaces in the section house.