Constitutional club by W T Orton, completed in 1902, extended in the late 1920s.
Reasons for Designation
The former Constitutional Club in Hinckley, designed by W T Orton and completed in 1902, is listed at Grade II for the following principal reasons:
* the building is a skilful and elaborate design by midlands-based architect W T Orton, with Queen Anne and Art Nouveau influences producing a successful eclectic composition;
* despite alteration the building remains of high quality with particularly good detailing to the principal façade with stone carvings, shaped gables, cupola and wrought iron railings.
* as a surviving constitutional club with legible large billiard room and public speaking balconies on the first floor, showing the status and functioning of these organisations in the early C20.
* the building forms a strong group with the adjacent Free Library (Grade II) and other contemporary buildings on Station Road.
In the first years of the C20 a competition was launched to design Hinckley's new constitutional club. The new constitutional club was proposed to be located on an empty plot on the corner of The Horsefair and Station Road, with this area of Hinckley seeing much development after the construction of the neighbouring Free Library (Grade II) in 1888.The commission was won by W T Orton, a Hinckley architect, with the contractors Greaves and Farmer, also of Hinckley, instructed to complete the work. Construction was begun in November 1901 with the building completed and opened in August 1902. Once complete, the building contained on the first floor a large billiard room with fitted seating arranged around the perimeter of the room. This principal room contained two doors leading out onto balconies which were used for occasional public speaking. The first floor was also noted as having a smoking room, two card rooms and a manager’s flat at the north-west corner of the building.
In 1927 work was started to create a single-storey extension to the rear of the constitutional club with a view to creating a further lounge, additional billiard rooms and a skittle alley. In the late-C20 this extension was reconfigured with the ground floor of the constitutional club converted into a series of shops which extended into the 1927 range. The remainder of the flat-roofed extension was separated from the main building and now forms two separate addresses (3 and 5 The Horsefair, not part of the listing).
The southern three bays of the building retain their original shop frontages though they have seen some alteration in the late-C20 with the leaded-lights above the shopfront plate glass now lost. The creation of the additional shops on the ground floor at the northern end of the building in the late-C20 saw large openings knocked through on the eastern and northern elevations to create space for the additional frontages; this replaced two transomed windows to either side of the entrance. The creation of the shops also saw the opening up of the interior and the loss of the ground floor plan-form which had previously included a committee room and offices. The original entrance and vestibule with leaded-glass and hallway with newel post stair were retained as part of the alterations.
Alterations were also carried out to the first floor of the building in the late-C20 with this level subdivided to create offices. In 2018, the building was sold at auction with planning permission granted for the conversion of the offices into flats. Under new ownership and as part of the works granted under the previous planning permission, some demolition of the upper floor was subsequently carried out. This included the removal of most fixtures and fittings with the building taken back to brick and studwork. As of 2021, the building remains in this condition, though stained glass, windows and the billiard room roof structure all appear to be in situ.
Constitutional club by W T Orton, completed in 1902, extended in the late 1920s.
MATERIALS: constructed of brick with white Hollington sandstone dressings and wrought iron railings.
PLAN: the building is L-shaped with the main linear range fronting Station Road to the east. To the north-west the building continues with the former manager’s flat at first floor, fronting The Horse Fair .
EXTERIOR: the building is Victorian eclectic in style with Queen Anne influences and is constructed of red brick in Flemish bond with stone plat bands and elaborate carved dressings. The roof is hipped with projecting gables to Station Road and is covered in slate with crested ridge tiles. The building has a total of six bays facing Station Road with shop fronts at ground floor and transomed Arts-and-Crafts-style windows above and dentilled cornice. The second bay has a shaped gable with limestone cartouche at its centre with the relief foliate carving giving the date of construction, 1902. A Diocletian window is in place at the centre of the bay, with further flat-faced transomed window below and simple scroll consoles to two of the upper mullions. To either side of this bay, on the upper floors, the bays are recessed accommodating two balconies with decorative Art Nouveau railings. The balconies are sheltered by the eaves of the building which are supported by two stone corbels and squat sandstone columns. The balconies contain double doors at their centre to access the interior and would have originally been used for occasional public speaking. The doors are bordered by windows to their side and above and have sandstone dressings matching the design of the transomed windows elsewhere. To the north the transomed windows continue and there is a further gable on the sixth bay, though not shaped, with transomed window with scrolling consoles, under semi-circular-arching stone pediment with central crest, scrolling detail and dentilled cornice. A further small, square cartouche is in place above the window.
The ground floor of the building retains its original shop frontage to the three southern bays, with wide fascia boards having replaced, or possibly covered, earlier leaded-glazing. The frontages retain their slender supporting columns with SHOPFRONTS ENTRANCE. Panelled piers and scroll consoles are situated between the bays of the frontages. To the north the building continues with a projecting sandstone entrance bay with ionic piers and egg and dart cornice supporting a shaped pediment above containing an elaborately carved ‘CONSTITUTIONAL CLUB’ with scrolling foliate surround. To either side the late-C20 shopfronts have similar scrolling consoles and panelled piers intended to mirror the earlier shops. The building fronts the corner of The Horsefair and Station Road with an octagonal cupola standing tall at the height of the gable apex. The façade then drops down to the west, and the building with dentilled cornice continues along The Horsefair for a further two bays, with further transomed windows at first floor and shopfront below. The building then drops in level again, though is still two-storey, and has much reduced detailing, with sash windows on first floor and late-C20 shopfront below.
INTERIOR: the building is accessed via the main entrance on Station Road which leads to a small panelled entrance vestibule with stained glass fanlight and further door leading to the entrance hallway. This leads to the late-C19 dog-leg newel post stair at the rear of the building to access the first floor. The stair balusters are chunky and square in section and the stair has an open string with decorative brackets. The newel posts have finials with chevron cornicing. The remainder of the ground floor has been altered to accommodate retail units; it is not known whether any original features survive.
The first-floor interior has been much altered with most fittings having been removed; the original window with architraves and sills remain. The stair opens to a hallway at first floor level which has at its southern end the entrance to the former billiard room, with stained glass fanlight above the door. The roof structure of the billiard room survives including the timber collared-roof trusses with steel tie beams. Chamfered purlins run between the trusses with run-out stops.