Concrete Mystique


BLOG - 33-39 St James Street

This building in my hometown has always intrigued me.

It’s been largely empty for as long as I can remember, albeit with a popular car servicing and repair company working out the back. So it was good to learn that today it’s been granted a grade II listed status from Historic England (they don’t always make as poor a decision as noted in the previous post below) as it’s a very early English example of European Functionalism having been built using a reinforced concrete-frame – a pioneering technique for the build date of 1908.

Apparently, François Hennebique, a French engineer and self-educated builder, patented this reinforced-concrete construction system (known as Béton Armé) and although 33-39 St James Street doesn’t appear on a list of Hennebique’s works, it does seem to have been built on broadly similar lines.

Quite why this building has taken so long to reach this celebrated status is a mystery, hopefully as a result it might receive the tender loving care that it so obviously needs and maybe even find someone or something to occupy it.


As an aside, the local paper somewhat predictably attempted to demonise the building given that it’s not one of the many “quaint churches” to be found in and around West Norfolk – though pleasingly (and admittedly somewhat surprisingly) the poll hasn’t gone in quite the direction they had probably presumed it would.

BLOG - 33-39 St James Street Poll

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