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Norfolk's newest listed building is a Kwik Fit garage

PUBLISHED: 13:07 18 March 2019 | UPDATED: 12:29 19 March 2019

The Kwik Fit garage in King's Lynn set to become a listed building  Picture: Chris Bishop

The Kwik Fit garage in King's Lynn set to become a listed building Picture: Chris Bishop

Archant

Its built heritage is famed worldwide, from its towering churches to its Custom House and St George's Guildhall.

One of Britain's earliest reinforced concrete buildings stands in King's Lynn near the police station  Picture: Chris BishopOne of Britain's earliest reinforced concrete buildings stands in King's Lynn near the police station Picture: Chris Bishop

And King’s Lynn’s newest listed building is a Kwik Fit garage, described as one of Britain’s oldest reinforced concrete structures.

The building, off St James Street, has just been listed by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport on the advice of Historic England, in recognition of its historic and architectural importance.

It says the former showroom, warehouse and offices of the Building Material Company Ltd was built in 1908 by the Bardell Brothers of Lynn. They used a pioneering technique, constructing one of the earliest reinforced concrete-framed buildings in England. Similar buildings did not appear more frequently until the 1920s and very few examples remain today.

It was very unusual at the time because its design includes an exposed concrete frame. These were normally covered by brickwork or a rendered surface. Concrete only become an accepted material for exteriors when Wembley Stadium in London opened in 1923.

The building's St Jjames Street frontage, which has in recent years been a pub and a restaurant  Picture: Chris BishopThe building's St Jjames Street frontage, which has in recent years been a pub and a restaurant Picture: Chris Bishop

The building’s flat roof and lack of embellishment is what the Swiss-French architect, Le Corbusier called the ‘plan libre’, where structural frames were used to create large internal open spaces. It is also described as “a very early English example of European functionalism – where the form of the building was determined by practical considerations such as use, material and structure”.

Joining it on the listed buildings register is the former Lloyds Bank, built on the Tuesday Market Place in 1928.

Beautiful detailed sculptural embellishments using Portland stone adorn the building, the work of skilled craftsmanship.

Officials say while it is a relatively small building, it makes “a significant contribution to the rich architectural character of Tuesday Market Place”.

The former Lloyds Bank, on the Tuesday Market Place, which has also been listed  Picture: Chris BishopThe former Lloyds Bank, on the Tuesday Market Place, which has also been listed Picture: Chris Bishop

Heritage minister Michael Ellis said: “These new listings in King’s Lynn prove that heritage treasures are not just ancient monuments, medieval churches or Georgian houses but that they are found in the most unlikely of places.

“This is a superb example of how buildings of historic importance can be used by local businesses and I am pleased it will now be protected for future generations.”

Tony Calladine, Historic England’s Regional Director for the East of England, said: “How wonderful to find out that Lynn is home one of England’s earliest purpose-built reinforced concrete structures. One can imagine that it was a showpiece for the building company, to illustrate to potential customers their ingenuity.”

Alistair Beales, West Norfolk council’s cabinet member for corporate projects and assets, said: “We are delighted with the government’s decision to list these important buildings on our doorstep as part of the pioneering work going on within the King’s Lynn Heritage Action Zone.”

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