Concrete Mystique

16Mar19

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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