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© Mr Geoff Dowling ARPS

IoE Number: 410471
Location: ADMINISTRATION BLOCK TO THE FORMER GENERAL ELECTRICAL COMPANY WITTON WORKS, ELECTRIC AVENUE (east side)
  BIRMINGHAM, BIRMINGHAM, WEST MIDLANDS
Photographer: Mr Geoff Dowling ARPS
Date Photographed: 24 March 2002
Date listed: 01 August 1995
Date of last amendment: 01 August 1995
Grade II

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The following building shall be added to list;BIRMINGHAMELECTRIC AVENUESP 09 SE(east side)

The following building shall be added to list; BIRMINGHAM ELECTRIC AVENUE SP 09 SE (east side) 3/10137 Administration Block to the former GEC Witton Works II Administrative offices, 1920-22 by Wallis, Gilbert and Partners for the General Electrical Company Ltd. Reinforced concrete frame, with rendered brick cladding and Portland stone entrance, flat roof hidden behind parapets. Asymmetrical U-shaped block, with principal offices on first floor of three-storey, 17-bay battered facade. This facade with projecting single-bay centre-piece and end pavilions, with side wings set back but protruding behind these. A giant order divides the other windows and is repeated in the architraves of the end pavilions, all set under a massive cornice with fluted frieze and on high, stepped plinth; the order itself comprises plain, unmoulded pilasters with tasselled volutes. The attic storey has moulded architraves with roundels in the corners repeating those of the frieze. All windows small-paned metal casements. The centrepiece is a richly Egyptian-styled pylon, with engaged lotus columns, heavy fluted architraves, frieze and pediment set with a writhing snake. Inner architrave to bronzed and heavily decorated double doors with smaller inset pilasters under roundel motifs. At each end of this range are similar but simpler battered doors. Left-hand wing of five bays, right-hand wing of eight bays are very simple. On either side, first-floor glazed links, which themselves continue the cornice and motifs of the main facade, connect the administrative building with earlier factories which are not of special architectural intrest. INTERIOR. Ground floor entrance hallway with fluted Egyptian columns has moulded ceiling with segmental central oval dome and round light fittings. The segmental pattern of this ceiling is repeated in the oval sun-ray motif of the patterned terrazzo floors. Two of the four entrance doors to either side are original, with small-paned inset glazing and top-lights. Two are of no interest, and the lift has also been renewed; however, the staircase which wraps round this has some mouldings. The ground-floor offices have moulded architrave surrounds and toplights to their doors. The first floor survives completely, with a full set of doors having their carefully-designed, Egyptian style bronze door furniture. All the offices have battered architrave surrounds to the doors, moulded picture rail with tasselled ends and cornices. Most spectacular is the reception room, or board room. This is five internal bays by four in extent, fully panelled with marquetry inlay, battered, with rounded base and heavy cornice, and architraves repeating the pattern of the exterior. Even the keyholes are carefully battered. Fitted bookcases an important element in the composition. Moulded plaster ceiling, with circular centrepiece between fluted and torchere mouldings. Staircases at either end of front block with continuous steel balustrades. Wallis, Gilbert and Partners, ie. Thomas Wallis, were the most noted designers of factory buildings in the inter-war period. This is the earliest building by the finn discovered in good condition, with an exceptional interior (notably the board room) of a quality found nowhere else in their work. The style of the building anticipates that of their famous Hoover Building of 1932-5, but in the quality of the detailing to the entrance and board room this is the more carefully wrought. Source The Architect, 30 June 1922

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