© Mr John H. Sparkes
CASTLE HOUSE, QUEEN STREET (south side)
BRIDGWATER, SEDGEMOOR, SOMERSET
Mr John H. Sparkes
21 August 2007
16 December 1974
Date of last amendment:
16 December 1974
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ST 2937 SE BRIDGWATER QUEEN STREET
House. 1851. For William Ackerman. Brick with pre-cast concrete facing panels, solid concrete, pantile roof with rendered stacks. Double-depth plan including rear range. Early Tudor Revival style.
2 storeys; 2-window range. The front elevation is very ornate, and composed in the manner of an early Tudor gatehouse. The ground-floor walls are constructed in brick with pre-cast concrete facing panels, the walls of the first floor are of solid concrete blocks simulating rusticated jointing. The upper parts of the parapet and mock battlements are rendered brick. Above and below the first floor are friezes formed of perforated pre-cast concrete blocks supported by pre-cast concrete corbels. Projecting concrete drip cills protect the base of the parapets, both friezes and the plinth. The windows are mullioned and transomed 2-light casements with head stops to label moulds. Canted bays to the sides form stair turrets, to front of which, on both floors and attic, are niches with depressed-arched heads, formerly housing painted concrete statues; those to ground floor have head stops to label moulds. To centre of the front is a small single-storey canted bay with a single window and panelled parapet above. The doorway under a hood on consoles is to left and entrance to a stair turret is in the corner to far left.
INTERIOR: there is extensive concrete work within the house including staircases, handrails and window frames, all prefabricated at John Board's works. The structure seems to be held together with tie-bars and one section of roof trusses is made out of reinforced brickwork, made to look like a cruck frame or parabolic arch. An early and significant use of concrete, for both decorative and structural purposes.
History: probably one of the earliest surviving examples of the use of prefabricated concrete and constructional post-tensioning. The house contains a wide variety of castings, mostly as ornament but with enough items carrying loads to be classified as of minor structural importance; it shows an innovative interpretation of traditional masonry features in concrete and a relatively early method of reinforcement in the structure. Castle House is associated with two important Sedgemoor families, the Boards and the Ackermans; John Board (1802-1861) who extended his family's brick company into cement in 1844, and his grandson William Ackerman who joined the company in 1871 and is credited with the first 'true' Portland cement.